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Cleric vows Iraqwill be 'inclusive'

BAGHDAD -- Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose coalition won the largest number of seats in Iraq's parliamentary elections, has sought to reassure Iraqis about their next government, saying it will be "inclusive" and mindful of their needs.

No single bloc won a majority in the May 12 vote, raising the prospect of weeks or even months of negotiations to agree on a government. Major political players began talks soon after the election's partial results were announced last week.

The latest round was held Sunday between al-Sadr and Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of a coalition of Shiite paramilitary forces backed by both the government and neighboring Iran.

Speaking after his talks Saturday with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, al-Sadr said the first postelection meeting between the two "sends a clear and comforting message to the Iraqi people: Your government will take care of you and will be inclusive, we will not exclude anyone. We will work toward reform and prosperity."

Italy's populistsagree on premier

ROME -- One of Italy's two main populist leaders said Sunday that he and his rival finally have agreed on who should be the next premier -- neither of them -- in what would be the nation's first populist-led government.

Exactly 11 weeks after a parliamentary election with inconclusive results created political gridlock, League leader Matteo Salvini said he and 5-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio have settled both on a choice for premier and the makeup of the Cabinet.

In that coalition government, which should take power soon, "neither I nor Di Maio" will be premier, Salvini told reporters.

He and Di Maio will reveal their premier pick to Italian President Sergio Mattarella. Their agreed on candidate, he said, "mirrors the vote of the majority of Italians" on March 4.

If Mattarella is convinced their choice can muster a solid majority in Parliament, he can give a mandate to the premier-designate to try to forge a coalition government that would have to win confidence votes in both chambers.

Spain in standoffover Catalonia

MADRID -- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faces a resurgent confrontation with Catalonia over the regional government's choice of leaders, threatening passage of his 2018 budget.

Rajoy's government left open the option of vetoing a slate of senior officials proposed by regional chief Joaquim Torra Saturday, saying it's a provocation that he nominated people who are in prison or wanted by Spain after Catalonia's failed independence bid last year. A veto would extend the Spanish government's direct rule of Catalonia.

The standoff plays into Rajoy's plan to salvage the country's budget in a parliamentary vote this week. Lacking a majority of seats, Rajoy needs backing from the regional Basque party for passage. The party has said it will back the budget only if Rajoy lifts Article 155 of the constitution suspending Catalan self-rule.

A Section on 05/21/2018

Print Headline: The World in Brief

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