Thursday, January 18, 2007

Al-Maliki hits back at Bush, Rice criticism

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki voiced frustration with President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday, saying their recent criticism of the Iraqi government probably helped the "terrorists."

Al-Maliki, whose relationship with the United States is strained, was especially upset about Rice's comment last week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when she said that al-Maliki's government is working on "borrowed time."

Such statements give moral boosts to the terrorists and push them towards making an extra effort and making them believe that they have defeated the American administration, but I can tell you that they haven't defeated the Iraqi government," he said during a meeting with a handful of reporters.

The interview was al-Maliki's first public comments since Bush announced last week that he is sending 21,500 additional American troops to Iraq. The Times of London posted audio of the interview on its Web site. McClatchy Newspapers didn't take part in the interview.

Al-Maliki also criticized Bush for saying during an interview Tuesday with PBS' Jim Lehrer that the chaotic execution of Saddam Hussein looked like a "revenge killing."

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