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Iraqi Political Parties Insist Deal Is Possible

This Wednesday, the Iraqi National Assembly elected six weeks ago is to convene for its first session. But delicate talks are still under way to form a government before then. The Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdistan Democratic Party could have a two-thirds majority if they succeed in forming a coalition.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Baghad that ordinary Iraqis are waiting impatiently for the new government to overhaul security policy and quell the violent insurgency that claimed more lives over the weekend. More than 200 Iraqis have died over the past two weeks in a string of bombings and other attacks.

The U.S. embassy confirmed that two American security contractors were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb hit their passing convoy. The contractors, employees of the North Carolina-based Blackwater Security Consulting, were on the road to Hillah, south of Baghdad. A third contractor was wounded and is in a military hospital.

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Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.