John Kerry in Baghdad: No talks with Abadi until gov’t formed

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to Baghdad on Friday to talk about the stalled effort to form a new government and new airstrikes against Islamic State militants, the State Department said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi survived an assassination attempt in Baghdad on Thursday in what authorities believe was a bomb blast and a shooting before the bomb went off, Iraqi officials said.

In brief comments broadcast on state TV, al-Abadi appeared uninjured. A government spokesman said he was on his way to Baghdad International Airport at the time of the attack and showed footage from the capital’s presidential compound, where he was greeted by a large group of Iraqis and U.S. and British officials.

A police commander said the bomber blew himself up under an engine on a parked car near the presidential complex before five gunmen opened fire. There were no details available about the extent of al-Abadi’s injuries.

The prime minister, a Shiite who won office last year in a narrow vote, has been seeking approval from a parliament widely perceived as dominated by Iraq’s powerful Sunni Muslim minority.

The U.S. and other world powers hope his government will be able to confront the Islamic State militants who have captured large swaths of territory since the beginning of the year. It is also vital to undermine a resurgent insurgency by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia who has long loomed large over Baghdad.

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