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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday welcomed what he described as "the forward movement toward government formation in Iraq" and praised the Iraqi president's decision to ask Haidar al-Abadi to form a new cabinet, the United Nations said.

"He encourages Dr. al-Abadi, Prime Minister-designate, to form a broad-based government acceptable to all components of Iraqi society," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

Dujarric said Ban worries that the increased political tensions coupled with the threat posed by the military offensive of Islamic State militants "could lead the country into even deeper crisis."

Iraq moved closer to turning the page on Nuri al-Maliki's reign when an alternative prime minister was named Monday.

"The country is in your hands," President Fuad Masum told Haidar al-Abadi after accepting his nomination by parliament's Shiite bloc, in a move immediately welcomed by the United States.

Washington had warned Maliki against stirring trouble after the two-term premier gave a defiant midnight television address suggesting he was ready to fight for his job to the very end.

A senior U.S. diplomat with responsibility for Iraq Monday congratulated Haider al-Abadi on being tasked by President Fouad Masoum to form a new government as prime minister.
"The United States stands ready to fully support a new and inclusive Iraqi government," added Brett McGurk, who is U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

Source: Reuters, AFP

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