PM joins with Sunnis in election

BAGHDAD: Iraq's prime minister is reaching across sectarian lines for January's parliamentary election with alliances that include Sunni groups.

Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led bloc is seeking a broad coalition with Sunni factions to turn back a challenge from Shiite religious parties. Earlier this year, voters strongly rejected Shiite religious parties in provincial balloting. Al-Maliki is hoping to again ride the trend toward secular-oriented politics.

Al-Maliki's election alliance announced Thursday includes Sunni political groups from around Iraq, including several that joined the uprising against insurgents.

Al-Maliki's pro-Western government has come under pressure to maintain security gains as U.S. forces withdraw.