Iraqi parliament begins key fall session

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraqi lawmakers, opening their fall session, are facing decisions on key issues that the U.S. believes are necessary to improving security.

Today's session opened late and lasted only about an hour, after beginning with only 160 of Iraq's 275 parliament members in attendance.

Major issues the legislators have to act on include a bill providing for provincial elections, legislation to regulate the oil industry and a long-term security pact with the United States.

American critics have complained that Iraqi leaders haven't seized the opportunity created by security improvements to forge power-sharing agreements among rival Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish communities. The parliament itself has been criticized for frequent delays on decisions and failing to hold sessions.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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