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White House hails Maliki departure as 'major step forward'

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, pictured during a meeting in Baghdad, on June 23, 2014The White House welcomed Nuri al-Maliki’s decision to drop his bid to remain Iraq’s prime minister as a “major step forward” to unite a country divided by a jihadist offensive and political infighting. In abandoning his bid to stay in power, the divisive Maliki has bowed to huge domestic and international pressure, two months into a brutal offensive by Islamic State militants. “We commend Prime Minister Maliki for his decision to support prime minister-designate Haidar al-Abadi in his efforts to form a new government in line with the Iraqi constitution,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in a statement, released Thursday. Quelling fears a desperate power struggle could worsen what is already Iraq’s biggest crisis in years, Maliki said he was stepping aside to “facilitate the progress of the political process and the formation of the new government.”

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