Former Iraq PM meets al-Sadr

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Anti-American Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr met Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's main challenger yesterday for talks in Syria. Discussions with former premier Ayad Allawi, who heads the Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition, appeared to focus on the urgent need to form an Iraqi government.

The country is in its fifth month without leadership following inconclusive elections in March. "The meeting was positive and fruitful," said Mr al-Sadr.