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Iraq’s Hakim rejects claims he talked to US in Kuwait trip

Senior Iraqi cleric Ammar Hakim has dismissed media reports that he held talks with a US envoy during a recent trip to Kuwait, saying the claims are purely meant to sabotage efforts to form a united coalition government.

The office of Iraq’s National Wisdom Movement (NWM), or Hikma, which is led by Hakim, said Thursday that the cleric had no meetings with US officials in his trip to Kuwait.

The reports that Hakim sought to coordinate with US his efforts to engage in a future coalition government were “pure lies and hollow words,” the office said.

A spokesman of the NWM said Hakim’s trip to Kuwait was based on a tradition of Iraqi clerics’ visits to the neighboring country, adding the visit had nothing to do with the political situation in Iraq.

Nawfil Abu Raghif said those fabricating reports about Hakim’s talks with US representatives in Kuwait were only seeking to incite public sentiment and spark a new political crisis in Iraq.

The NWM won 19 seats in the May 12 general elections in Iraq. The party could be a key partner to a coalition government comprised of Shia parties that will dominate the future Iraqi parliament.

On top of the list stands the Sairoon bloc, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, another popular cleric who has promised to block the influence of foreign countries, especially the United States, in the formation of the new government.

In statements last week, Sadr rejected reports about contacts between his alliance and US officials, saying there has been no change to Sairoon’s anti-US policies.

“We are a nation whose principles and positions have not changed and will not change,” Sadr said, according to his official website.

There have been reports about some irregularities in the elections, prompting calls for members of the country’s election commission to resign.

Earlier this week, the parliament canceled expats’ and internally displaced people’s votes in the elections while it also called for a manual recount of 10 percent of the general votes over fraud allegations.

On Friday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the creation of a high-powered commission to look into the alleged irregularities in the parliamentary elections.

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