Allawi, Maliki, to Get Equal Salaries

Associated Press reports that Ayad Allawi will join the Shiite-led government being assembled by his top rival, Nouri al-Maliki, clearing a final hurdle tp end months of tortuous, post-election dealmaking.

Despite recent negative comments, the two held what appeared to be a warm 90-minute meeting on Tuesday after which an Iraqiya spokeswoman said Allawi has agreed to join the government as head of a newly created council to oversee security and foreign policy issues.

The move gives Allawi veto power over many of al-Maliki's top priorities. It also affords him the same salary as al-Maliki, believed to currently be at least $360,000.

While not officially announcing any decision, Allawi said "We reached a joint vision .. Each of us has an experience that complements the other."

Al-Maliki said "there are great challenges and we have the ability to confront all these challenges".

Allawi is expected to have broad powers as head of the new National Council for Strategic Policies, a 20-member body that will serve as a counterbalance to al-Maliki's major security and foreign policy decisions.

The Iraqi parliament will meet Saturday to discuss the creation of the new council and its powers.

(Source: Associated Press)

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