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Shiites: No Agreement on Iraq's Draft Constitution

Shiite leaders say no agreement has been reached on Iraq's draft constitution, citing failed negotiations with minority Sunnis. In a sign the debate may be at an end, Shiite officials say they plan to submit a revised draft to parliament, possibly by Saturday.

The latest development follows two delays of the deadline to submit a draft constitution to the National Assembly. Shiite and Kurdish leaders are now debating whether to submit the current document, approved by Shiite and Kurdish leaders, to a national referendum in October.

The lack of progress comes despite an appeal from the White House. President Bush called Shiite leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim late Thursday to urge fresh efforts to reach a consensus on Iraq's draft constitution. The president expressed concerns that without a compromise with Sunnis, a constitutional referendum could further divide Iraq politically.

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Deborah Amos covers the Middle East for NPR News. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.
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