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Iraq To Scale Back Cabinet

BAGHDAD, Aug. 1 (UPI) — A Kurdish lawmaker in Iraq said he received a letter from the country’s prime minister on the size of the Cabinet but lingering, and basic, concerns remain.

A 46-member Cabinet for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was approved in December after a lengthy political fight following parliamentary elections in March 2011. A new Cabinet proposed by Maliki is down to 34 seats. Alaa Talibani, a lawmaker with the Kurdish Alliance, told al-Jazeera there were complaints remaining, like the lack of ministers for defense and interior.

“We all received the (Cabinet) letter from Maliki but it was unclear about how the government intends to tackle the pending issues such as lack of security and electricity in Iraq,” he was quoted as saying.

The Cabinet decision comes as Iraqi lawmakers consider the status of the U.S. troop presence in the country. U.S. forces are set to leave in December.

In its July report to Congress, the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction said Iraq remains “an extraordinarily dangerous place to work.”

“It is less safe, in my judgment, than 12 months ago,” writes the report’s author, Stuart Bowen. “Buttressing this conclusion is the fact that June was the deadliest month for U.S. troops in more than two years.”

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