Iran said Thursday that all Iraqi parties that fared well in the inconclusive March election should be included in the government after the secular front-runner sent a delegation to Teheran.
Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, who won the vote by a razor-thin margin, is vying with incumbent Nouri al-Maliki to collect enough support to form a government after neither gained an outright majority in the parliamentary vote.
His sending a delegation to Iran was significant because Allawi drew major support in the vote from Sunni Muslims, who deeply distrust mainly Shiite Iran, and Allawi himself spoke out often in the campaign against Teheran's influence in Iraq.
The visit may be an attempt to ward off an attempt by al-Maliki's party and the other top Iranian-backed Shiite bloc to form a merger that would allow them to form a government and sideline Allawi.
Iranian state TV reported that Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani expressed hope that all Iraqi political groups would "participate in the future of Iraq, based on their political weight" during a meeting with Sunni lawmaker Rafia al-Issawi, a member of Allawi's secular Iraqiya list.