In comments published by Iraq's al-Mada national newspaper on Thursday, President Ghazi al-Yawir said the country needed the expertise of some former government members to help rebuild the country.

He said they could bring together different social, ethnic and religious groups.

"Reconciliation ... does not mean depriving our country of the qualifications".
   
Al-Yawir also added that those who had committed crimes against the Iraqi people or held positions of influence under the former government should be put on trial.
   
But he would make an exception for those "who had no power or influence and were not tools of persecution against the people in the hands of the regime".

Khamenei's swipe

Iran's supreme leader on Thursday described Iraq's new interim government as America's lackey and said the world's superpower had failed to bring reform to the country.

"The fact is, Iraq is occupied and Bremer holds the reins of power, command of the security forces and the purse strings. He is the only man who issues decrees and he's unelected.
What do you call that?"

Ahmad Fawzi,
UN spokesman for Lakhdar Brahimi

Speaking to tens of thousands of people commemorating the 15th anniversary of the death of the late Ayat Allah Ruh Allah Khomeini, Ayat Allah Ali Khamenei reminded crowds of the Iraqi crisis.

"Humiliating Iraqi youth, torturing Iraqi men, raping Iraqi women, breaking down the doors of Iraqi homes and installing a lackey government is the result of ... removing spirituality from politics."

'Dictator' talk

Meanwhile, a spokesman for UN special adviser Lakhdar Brahimi said the envoy never promised "a government of angels".

Spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said the interim leadership announced this week was the best Brahimi could have achieved in the circumstances.

Fawzi also did his best to dispel talk of Brahimi's describing US administrator Paul Bremer as Iraq's "dictator".

He said this had been uttered in jest, but was also a simple statement of fact.

"He didn't say Bremer acts like a dictator, but the fact is,
Iraq is occupied and Bremer holds the reins of power, command of the security forces and the purse strings.

"He is the only man who issues decrees and he's unelected.
What do you call that?"