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Pope renews appeal for international action in Iraq

The Vatican called on Muslim religious leaders to condemn the activity of Islamic State militants in Iraq.

Pope Francis. Picture: AFP.

ROME - Pope Francis renewed his appeal on Wednesday for international action to stop suffering among religious minorities in war-torn northern Iraq, calling for help in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon.

"I write to you, Mr Secretary General, and place before you the tears, the suffering and the heartfelt cries of despair of Christians and other religious minorities of the beloved land of Iraq," the Pope said in the letter.

The Vatican called on Muslim religious leaders on Tuesday to condemn the activity of Islamic State militants in Iraq, said the international community was compelled to do all it could under international law to prevent the violence.

"ABADI'S APPOINTMENT HAS NO VALUE"

Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday the appointment of Haider al-Abadi to replace him as Iraq's prime minister violated the constitution and "had no value".

In a televised speech, Maliki said everyone should accept a pending federal court ruling on an objection he filed against Abadi's appointment, and said his government would continue until a final decision was made.

Abadi won swift endorsements from the United States and Iran on Tuesday as he called on political leaders to end feuds that have allowed Islamist militants to seize a third of the country.

State television on Wednesday reported that Abadi was working on forming a new cabinet and developing a government programme in agreement with other political blocs.

But Maliki has so far refused to step aside after eight years as premier. Critics have accused the Shi'ite Islamist of marginalising the country's once-dominant Sunni Muslim community during his rule and thereby worsening the country's crisis.

On Wednesday, Maliki said the decision to appoint Abadi as prime minister was not valid without a decision from the Federal Court on an appeal he said he filed on Tuesday against the decision to task Abadi with forming a new government.

"The violation that occurred has no value and its consequences have no effect," he said.

"This government is continuing, and will not be changed except after the Federal Court issues its decision."