Democrats criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki for failing to condemn Hezbollah’s actions against Israel, during the press conference with Bush today.
(photo: Lucian Perkins/The Post)
Earlier this morning, Kerry sent a letter to President Bush saying that when Maliki addresses Congress tomorrow, the Prime Minister must strongly condemn the use of terror anywhere in the world – including by Hezbollah against Israel. Below is a statement from Senator John Kerry on Maliki’s failure to condemn Hezbollah:
“Prime Minister Maliki missed an important opportunity to state his position on Hezbollah, and instead left the impression that he does not oppose this terrorist organization’s outrageous attacks on Israel. Silence in the face of terrorism is unacceptable, whether it’s in America or in Iraq.
“American soldiers have made tremendous sacrifices in Iraq, and the American people have every right to expect that the new government will speak candidly and truthfully about terror wherever it arises.
“Prime Minister Maliki has an obligation to unequivocally condemn Hezbollah’s terrorist attacks on Israel and clearly state his commitment to seeing this terrorist organization disarmed once and for all.”
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From the transcript of the White House press conference today:
Q — you had a frank exchange on the Middle East. How can you get Arab nations to apply pressure to stop the fighting in the Middle East, if allies like the Prime Minister won’t condemn Hezbollah?
And, Mr. Prime Minister, what, exactly is your position on Hezbollah?
PRESIDENT BUSH: The terrorists are afraid of democracies. And what you’ve witnessed in Israel, in my judgment, is the act of a terrorist organization trying to stop the advance of democracy in the region.
I assured the Prime Minister that I care deeply about the suffering that takes place, that we understand the anguish of leaders in the region who see innocent people losing their life. I also assured him that Condi Rice’s mission is to help get humanitarian aid to the Lebanese people.
She’s working on not only air corridors, but sea corridors and land corridors, to get aid to the people. And the United States will participate, as will other nations.
I also talked about making sure that we adhere to U.N. Resolution 1559, which basically — not basically — strongly urges political parties not to be armed. A key part of our strategy is to support democracy. And so, not only do we support democracy in the Palestinian Territory, we also support the Lebanese democracy. I think the Prime Minister was pleased to hear my strong support for the Siniora government.
And so Condi goes with the following messages: We support the Siniora government; we care about the people; we will help to get aid to the people; and that we want a sustainable cease-fire. We don’t want something that’s short-term in duration. We want to address the root causes of the violence in the area, and therefore, our mission and our goal is to have a lasting peace — not a temporary peace, but something that lasts.
And I believe that Iraq, in some ways, faces the same difficulty, and that is a new democracy is emerging and there are people who are willing to use terrorist techniques to stop it. That’s what the murder is all about.
People fear democracy if your vision is based upon kind of a totalitarian view of the world. And that’s the ultimate challenge facing Iraq and Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories, and that is, will the free world, and the neighborhood, work in concert to help develop sustainable democracy?
And Iraq took a long step along that — a big step on that path when they developed a constitution that was ratified by the Iraqi people. And it’s a modern constitution, and it’s a landmark moment in the history of freedom advancing in the Middle East.
I believe that deep in everybody’s soul, Mr. Prime Minister, is a desire to be free. And when 12 million Iraqis went to the polls and said, I want to be free, it was an amazing moment. I know it seems like a long, long time ago that that happened. But it was a powerful statement about what is possible in terms of achieving peace.
PRIME MINISTER MALIKI: Thank you. Here, actually we’re talking about the suffering of a people in a country. And we are not in the process of reviewing one issue or another, or any government position. The important thing here is what we are trying to do is to stop the killing and the destruction, and then we leave the room and the way for the international and diplomatic efforts and international organization to play the role to be there.
We are not here facing a situation only in Lebanon, but would be facing a variety of issues in different countries. I’m talking here about the approach that should be used in order to stop this process of promoting hatred, that has to be superior decisions coming from above in order to protect these experiments, particularly the democratic experiments that should be protected by those who are trying to oppose it.