BAGHDAD, Iraq – Leaders of the main Shiite Muslim political party will reach out to the minority Sunni Muslims to form a coalition government if they win next month's general elections, U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (search) said.
Speaking to reporters during a short visit to Iraq, Lieberman, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Mark Dayton, a Minnesota Democrat, said they met with two representatives of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim (search), the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country's largest political party.
Al-Hakim escaped an assassination attempt Monday.
Lieberman said if the United Iraqi Alliance (search), a coalition that al-Hakim heads, wins elections on Jan. 30, it "intends to reach out and attempt to build what I would describe as a coalition government certainly with [interim] Prime Minister [Ayad] Allawi and others in the government now and with Sunni representative."
The 228-member United Iraqi Alliance is expected to dominate the postelection legislature.
In the first free elections in decades, Iraqis are scheduled to elect a National Assembly whose main job will be to write a news constitution.
The alliance is backed by Iraq's most prominent Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The first name on the list is that of al-Hakim, who lived for a long time in exile in Iran before coming back to his country following last year's ouster of Saddam Hussein's government.
"There is some concern in the U.S. about the closeness of members of this list to Iran and about their intentions as they go forward, and I must tell you that I found it to be a very reassuring meeting," Lieberman said.
"They made it extremely clear to us that their mission, their concern is the well being of the Iraqi people. This is a nationalist movement. This is an Iraqi nationalist movement."