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Press Release of Senator Cantwell
Cantwell Statement Following White House Meeting on Iraq
Friday, April 28,2006
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell released the following statement after voicing concerns on Iraq in a meeting she attended Thursday at the White House with other senators and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley:
“Today, I took my concerns to the White House regarding our current course in Iraq.
“By selecting a speaker and prime minister-designate, the Iraqis have achieved an important benchmark. I urge them to continue working in the days ahead to support a government of national unity. Much work must still be done. Political and security progress are key to stability in Iraq. We must make this a year of transition for Iraq, leading to less American involvement in the country.
“I was glad to see news reports that the U.S. military is considering bringing as many as 30,000 U.S. troops home by the end of the year. It is a good start, but we need to see more. At the White House, I made it clear that the Bush administration must ensure that the new Iraqi government has the international support to succeed and that Iraqi security forces can take over security. As these benchmarks are met, we must bring our troops home.
“In the past, President Bush has not provided all the leadership necessary to build international support for stabilizing Iraq and getting the Iraqi troops trained. The President must act with urgency.
“The U.S. must get the Iraqi people on their feet and get our troops home. We must ensure that the new Iraqi government has the international support needed to succeed on its own; that more Iraqi security forces are prepared to take over their own security; and that critical infrastructure, like oil pipelines and the electricity grid, is harnessed as vital resources for success instead of being a constant target of terrorist attacks. As these goals are accomplished, we should begin to bring our troops home from Iraq.
“Last December, I personally witnessed the Iraqi elections, when nearly 10 million Iraqis voted in a successful election, meeting another critical benchmark. But in the four plus months since, Iraq has faced serious challenges. Sectarian violence plagued Iraq and threatened to turn into civil war. Now the prime minister-designate must get key cabinet ministers in place who are capable of helping to lead the country by stopping the militias and sectarian violence.
“The formation of the Iraqi government offers a new chance to succeed. But we need to set clear objectives and hold President Bush, Congress, U.S. military leaders and the Iraqis accountable for meeting them.”