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Published: Friday July 11, 2014 MYT 7:00:03 PM
Updated: Friday July 11, 2014 MYT 7:02:09 PM

Iraq's foreign minister says Kurds suspend all participation in government

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Kurdish political bloc will no longer take part in Iraq's national government in protest against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's accusation that Kurds were harboring Islamist insurgents in their capital, the foreign minister said on Friday.

"We have suspended our government business," said minister Hoshiyar Zebari, who is a Kurd.

The Kurds said on Thursday they were cancelling their participation in cabinet meetings. Zebari told Reuters that Kurdish ministers were now suspending their day-to-day involvement the foreign, trade, migration and health ministries and the deputy premiership.

Zebari said the Kurds will continue to attend the parliament, elected on April 30, which is seeking to form a new government in the face of a Sunni insurgency that has seized large sections of northern and western Iraq.

Maliki said on Wednesday the Kurds were allowing insurgents of the Islamic State (ISIL), an offshoot of al Qaeda, to base themselves in Arbil.

Zebari said Iraq risked falling apart if a new inclusive government is not formed soon as "the country is now divided literally into three states - "Kurdish; a black state (ISIL) and Baghdad."

He urged Iraq's political blocs to form a government quickly. "There is a need for all the leaders to work together and recreate the new Iraq, to build a federal Iraq based on the principles in the constitution."

He said that unless Iraqi leaders rose to the challenge "the consequences are very dire: the complete fragmentation and failure (of Iraq)."

(Reporting by Ned Parker, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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