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U.S. to Iraq: don’t “blow this opportunity”

Arshad Mohammed reports for Reuters:

The United States has warned Iraq not to "blow this opportunity" to become a prosperous, unified nation, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday, saying it must start to act like a democracy and embrace compromise.

Iraq has suffered its worst political crisis in a year with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's move to arrest Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi last month, which has raised fears of renewed sectarian violence following the U.S. troop withdrawal.

Speaking in a question-and-answer session with State Department employees, Clinton said U.S. ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey has taken the lead in urging Iraqi politicians including Maliki, a Shi'ite, to settle their differences peacefully.

"He is constantly ... reaching out, meeting with, cajoling, pushing the players, starting with Prime Minister Maliki, not to blow this opportunity," she said. "This is an opportunity to have a unified Iraq and the only way to do that is by compromising."

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