Iraqi PM Talks Arab-Kurdish Dispute

President Barack Obama talks during his joint news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Wednesday, July 22, 2009, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Iraq's prime minister says the divisions between the Kurds in Iraq's north and the rest of the country are one of the most dangerous challenges facing his country.

Iraq's Kurdish region is locked in an increasingly bitter dispute with the central government over oil-rich land.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (NEW-ree ahl MAHL-ah-kee) says the political divide must be resolved by constitutional means, and not by force.

Al-Maliki spoke Thursday in Washington. A day earlier he met with President Barack Obama at the White House.

Obama pressed al-Maliki to be more flexible about sharing power and allowing provincial governments a greater role in decision-making.

Al-Maliki, who has been accused of trying to gain political capital by playing up sectarian divisions, says his Shiite-led government is working hard to unite Iraq.