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Germany on Friday welcomed the decision by Nouri Al-Maliki to relinquish power and expressed hope for " the formation of a national consensus government (in Iraq) over the coming days."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said in a press that the Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier "welcomes Maliki's withdrawal from the Prime Minister's post, and expresses hope for the formation of a national consensus government (in Iraq) over the coming days."

Meanwhile in Iraq, On Friday, Iraq's most prominent Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called upon the next government to address "shortcomings" in security and to crack down on corruption in the political establishment. He said there is a "dire need" for new leadership that can combat terrorism and heal sectarian divisions.

"This is a rare, positive chance for Iraq to pursue new horizons that will lead to solving all of its problems — especially political and security," he said in a Friday sermon delivered by his spokesman Ahmed al-Safi in the holy city of Karbala.

"The enormous spread of corruption in state institutions hampers any real progress in the sectors of security, services and economic development," he added.

Al-Sistani, who rarely appears in public and almost always delivers messages through spokesmen, had been issuing veiled calls for al-Maliki to step aside for weeks, marking a rare intervention in politics by the normally quietist cleric.

In Brussels, the European Union's foreign ministers held an emergency meeting Friday on Iraq to coordinate their stance on military support for the Kurds and providing humanitarian assistance for those fleeing the fighting.

Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini told reporters that she hopes al-Abadi will form a new government "in the next days, not weeks."

Sources: Reuters, Kuna

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