Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki canceled an official trip to Iran, officials said yesterday, surprising colleagues in his government.
Mr. Maliki’s office said the trip was postponed after officials in the two neighboring countries failed to agree on specific dates.
The cancellation prompted speculation among Iraqi officials that Mr. Maliki changed his plans for a possible visit to Baghdad by President-elect Barack Obama, or because of the tumult in parliament following the resignation this week of its abrasive and sometimes strident speaker. Others suggested that Mr. Maliki was simply required to be in Baghdad ahead of the implementation of a new agreement that, starting Jan. 1, regulates the authority of the U.S. military in Iraq.
Relations with Iran remain one of Iraq’s most contentious issues and are sure to gather importance ahead of provincial elections next month that could reorient power in the country.
Violence punctuated the day in Baghdad. In the worst episode, a bomb killed five in the Shuala neighborhood.
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, December 26, 2008; Page A13