Along with Talabani, two vice-presidents too would be named. One of the two would be Adil Abd al-Mahdi, a Shia politician who is currently finance minister.

 

The other vice-president, a Sunni, would be nominated from a list of three comprising outgoing interim president Ghazi al-Yawir, leader of the independent democrats Adnan Pachachi and Adnan al-Janabi, Aljazeera has learned.

 

The naming of a president and two vice-presidents is a key step towards forming a government.

 

The presidential council must then appoint a prime minister, who will choose a cabinet.

 

Kurdish negotiator and outgoing foreign minister Hushyar Zibari said an agreement on the new cabinet to be headed by Shia leader Ibrahim al-Jafari as prime minister was also largely complete and that it would be approved "within a few days".

 

Defence portfolio

  

Zibari said the Sunnis, who largely boycotted the elections two months ago, would also get the post of defence minister, without giving other details.

 

Ghazi Al-Yawir is likely to take up
the vice-president's position

The news agency AFP quoted Deputy Speaker Husain al-Shahrastani as saying: "Ghazi al-Yawir will be nominated vice-president tomorrow."

  

"The Kurdish and (Shia) alliance lists accepted Ghazi al-Yawir," the agency quoted him as saying.  

  

Zibari said the Shia and Kurds had reached an agreement on al-Yawir as "the common denominator" after receiving lists of candidates for vice-president from Sunni groups.

  

"We agreed jointly that tomorrow, when the assembly convenes, we would have a common proposal," he said.

 

Steady progress

  

"There is good, steady progress. I am confident it will be followed by a prime minister and cabinet within a few days," he said.

 

"Irrespective of the Sunnis' passive attitude, they have been given significant positions"

Hushyar Zibari,
interim Iraqi foreign minister

"The two main lists recognise the need to accelerate our efforts because time is running out and people are getting impatient,"  Zibari added.

  

Zibari said both his Kurdish alliance and the Shia United Iraqi Alliance, which dominated the January elections, had gone out of their way to reach out to the embittered Sunnis to include them in the government.

  

"Our common approach has been to include them. Irrespective of their passive attitude, they have been given significant positions."

  

Sunni Hajim al-Hassani was elected parliament speaker on Sunday.