The Kurdish alliance has 75 seats in the new parliament. The Shiite's United Iraqi Alliance needs the Kurds' votes to form the two-thirds majority in parliament required for approval of many of the key government posts.
Members of the United Iraqi Alliance are lobbying hard to get the Kurds to join them, but the Kurds are driving a hard bargain and demanding concrete commitments in exchange for support, according to Ibrahim Jafari, the Shiite alliance's choice for prime minister.
Iraq War Deaths|
Total number of U.S. military deaths and names of the U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war as announced by the Pentagon recently:
In hostile actions: 1,142
In non-hostile actions: 353
Spec. Azhar Ali, 27, of Flushing, N.Y.
Spec. Wai P. Lwin, 27, of Queens, N.Y.
The two soldiers were assigned to Army National Guard 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, based in Manhattan, N.Y. They were killed March 2 in Baghdad.
Spec. Robert S. Pugh, 25, of Meridian, Miss.; Army National Guard 1st Battalion, 155th Infantry, based in McComb, Miss. Killed March 2 in Iskandariyah.
All troops were killed in action unless otherwise indicated.
Total fatalities include four civilian employees of the Defense Department.
A full list of casualties is available online at www.washingtonpost.com/nation
SOURCE: Defense Department's www.defenselink.mil/newsThe Washington Post
The Kurds are particularly interested in cementing their control over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, participants in the talks said. They are pushing to have Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, appointed president and are demanding that the Kurdish nationalist militia, called the pesh merga, not be disbanded.
If Talabani were president and Jafari were prime minister, political analysts say the third key political position in the country, speaker of parliament, probably would go to a Sunni.
In an interview, Jafari counseled patience.
"We're very eager to conclude this procedure as soon as possible," he said. "But we are more eager that this conclusion should be stable, should be fair."
On Saturday in Baghdad, Ali Abdulwahab Ameen, 31, a teacher, agreed that the process required patience. "This is a democracy," he said. "We waited for many years to have an elected government, and we can wait for a few days more."
Also on Saturday, a roadside bomb killed three Iraqi army soldiers and injured four others in Baghdad, the Associated Press reported, citing comments of a local hospital official. Four other soldiers were injured in the blast. A Turkish driver and an Iraqi Kurdish official were killed in two separate attacks in Mosul.
Anderson reported from Baghdad. Staff writer Caryle Murphy and special correspondents Naseer Nouri and Omar Fekeiki in Baghdad, Dlovan Brwari in Mosul and Saad Sarhan in Najaf contributed to this report.