Dubai: Under pressure from the Congress, Arab states and Sunni Iraqi leaders, the US administration on Tuesday set the stage for "major" political changes in Iraq.
The changes will be in "the structure, nature and direction of the Iraqi state," a senior American official in Baghdad was quoted by AP as saying.
He did not give out details, but the plan is expected to be high on the agenda of a 'crisis summit' which would be attended by key Iraqi leaders who seek to save the crumbling national unity government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki.
About 50 political leaders had "a friendly meeting" over lunch yesterday at the Baghdad residence of President Jalal Talabani, but the meeting was overshadowed by a suicide attack which killed 10 people in the Iraqi capital.
Also, a key player and one of the most senior Sunni Arabs in the government, Vice-President Tariq Al Hashemi, failed to attend Talabani's luncheon.
Al Hashemi, a critic of Al Maliki's alleged sectarian bias, said members of his Iraqi Islamic Party, part of the Sunni political bloc that quit the government, would hold meetings with leaders from regional Kurdish parties today before the summit, which will be held later this week.
The summit had been in question until a last-minute push from US Ambassador Ryan Crocker who called on Al Hashemi. Sunni leaders and some Arab countries have reportedly accused Al Maliki of sectarian bias and harbouring close ties with Iran.
Meanwhile, more than 50 gunmen dressed in Iraqi security forces' uniforms broke into an Oil Ministry compound in Baghdad and abducted a senior deputy of the oil minister.