BAGHDAD — Iraqi lawmakers agreed late Wednesday to meet on forming a new government as Kurdish and Shiite officials said an agreement had been reached that would allow Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to keep his job.
If confirmed, the deal would break a nearly eight-month impasse that has paralyzed the government and raised fears that insurgents were taking advantage of the political deadlock to stoke violence.
The officials said a Sunni-backed coalition that had been opposing the prime minister finally decided to join his government.
"Finally, fortunately, it's done. It's finished. All the groups are in it," said Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman, who took part in the nearly seven hours of negotiations.
Ali al-Dabbagh, a government spokesman and member of al-Maliki's State of Law coalition, said the Sunni-backed coalition, Iraqiya, had decided after extensive talks to accept the parliament speaker's job and cede al-Maliki the prime minister's job.
An official with Iraqiya confirmed that the coalition had agreed to take the parliament speaker's position but would not go so far as to say that the bloc would support al-Maliki for the prime minister's job and take part in his government.
His stance left open the possibility, albeit tenuous, that Iraqiya would continue to fight after accepting the parliament speaker's post. The Associated Press reported that the Iraqiya official did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.