Iraqi PM meets with US State Department official

Iraq's prime minister met Tuesday with a senior US diplomat and promised progress on legislation aimed at promoting national unity, his office said. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte that the Shiite-led government was determined to gain passage of draft laws on equitably distributing the country's oil wealth and allowing thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein's ousted Baath Party to return to government jobs and join the military, according to a statement from his office. "A lot of missions are ahead of us, on top of them is developing our security forces to handle their national roles in fighting the al-Qaida terrorist group, Saddamists and militias to impose law and order in all the country," al-Maliki said during the meeting, which was held in the prime minister's office in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. The Iraqi government and parliament are under heavy pressure from the Americans to pass the legislation, which is seen as a way to bring the disaffected Sunni minority into the political process in a bid to stem support for the insurgency.