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Consensus Grows as Constitutional Deadline Approaches in Iraq


Iraq's president says the committee drawing up the country's new constitution has resolved many outstanding issues and predicted a draft of the document should be ready Sunday, a day ahead of schedule.

President Jalal Talabani told reporters today-Saturday that discussions are now focusing on demands by Shi'ites in southern Iraq for creation of a federal region in their area and the relationship between Islam and the state.

Some members of the 71-person constitutional committee say most areas of disagreement have been resolved, including a preliminary deal on the distribution of oil wealth. They say the deal would give regional oil-producing areas five percent of
revenue, with the remainder going to the central government for nationwide distribution.

A draft constitution is to be submitted to Iraq's National Assembly Monday for debate before a national referendum in October.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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