THE United States has dropped its opposition to enshrining Islam as Iraq's main source of legislation in a bid to secure agreement on the text of a new constitution by a Monday deadline. Washington has been determined to see the target date met after a first deadline was missed last Monday, for fear that any loss of momentum in the political process will play into the hands of Sunni Arab insurgents. But the sources warned that the surprise shift of policy was as likely to complicate as to help the talks as the Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni negotiators remained deeply divided on the issue. "Last night's talks had a surprise element - the Americans appeared to give in to the demand from various Islamic groups that Islam be the main source of legislation," one source said, adding that US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was present at the negotiations. The role of Islam in lawmaking has proved a heavily divisive issue among negotiators with leaders of Iraq's Shiite majority insisting that religion be considered the main legal foundation, and that clerics should be given political roles. Kurds and other secularist groups oppose the Shiite demand, arguing that it would harm women's rights and Iraq's secular tradition. One Western diplomat with high-level involvement in the negotiations played down the significance of a strong role for Islam in the new constitution. "There's not a country in the region which does not have Islam as a main source of legislation," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity. "(The issue has) no real jurisprudential significance, it's more symbolic."