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BAGHDAD — Iraq’s parliament went into summer recess Wednesday without resolving a key dispute holding up this year’s provincial elections, forcing the speaker to announce a special session to discuss a power-sharing formula in the disputed city of Kirkuk.

Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni, adjourned the session as scheduled but ordered lawmakers to meet again on Sunday in a last-ditch effort to resolve the issue. The parliament on Wednesday failed to approve an additional budget of $21 billion after Kurdish lawmakers walked out to protest the provincial elections law.

Finance Minister Bayan Jabar said the failure could delay government expenditures on food rations, fuel for power plants and pay raises for civil servants. The extra budget would increase the overall budget to $70 billion this year.

The law says the provincial council in Kirkuk should be divided equally among Kurds, Turkomen and Arabs. But Kurds and their allies, who currently hold a majority on the council, oppose that because they fear it will dilute their power.

30 Taliban fighters killed in southern AfghanistanKABUL, Afghanistan — A series of clashes in southern Afghanistan killed 30 Taliban militants, while insurgents and a roadside blast killed five police, officials said Wednesday.

The militants were killed during three days of clashes in southern Uruzgan province, said provincial police chief Juma Gul Himat. Nine other militants and five policemen were wounded during these battles, he said.

Later Wednesday, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said one of its soldiers had died in Helmand, the 114th British serviceman to be killed in Afghanistan since operations began there in November 2001.

Report: Japan looking to pull forces from IraqWashington’s ambassador to Tokyo urged Japan on Tuesday to continue its support missions for U.S.-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to embassy press officer David Marks.

Ambassador Thomas Schieffer’s call followed Japanese media reports that Japan would, by the end of the year, bring home its roughly 200 air force personnel, now airlifting supplies from Kuwait to Iraq.

Japan’s Kyodo News quoted unnamed sources as saying that the nation’s Air Self-Defense Forces mission will come to a close by the end of this year when the current U.N. resolution authorizing deployment of multinational forces there expires.


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