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White House rebuffs Iraqi PM's criticism

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Thursday January 18, 2007

Washington- The White House on Thursday dismissed charges
by Iraq's prime minister that the United States has been slow to arm
Iraqi security forces, helping insurgents and costing American and
Iraqi lives, and has wavered in its support for his government.
In remarks published Thursday in US and Britsh newspapers, Nuri
al-Maliki said the need for US troops in Iraq would drop
"dramatically" in three to six months if the US speeded up equipping
and arming the Iraqi military.

"The prime minister has made this point a number of times," said
US President George W Bush's chief spokesman, Tony Snow. "He wants to
make sure that his forces are fully armed and capable, and we agree."

Al-Maliki said suggestions by Bush administration officials that
the US did not fully support his government had given "a morale
boost" to Iraqi insurgents, the Los Angeles Times quoted the Iraqi
leader as saying.

Al-Maliki appeared to be referring to US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice's remark last week "that his government is, in a
sense, on borrowed time, not just in terms of the American people,
but in terms of the Iraqi people."

Rice, testifying to a US Senate panel, added that she had
confidence in al-Maliki's government.

Snow suggested the criticism was based on a misunderstanding.

"The context on that is wrong," he told reporters in Washington.
"We have indicated no lack of support for the Iraqi government."

Snow said Al-Maliki fully agreed with the new Iraq policy Bush
announced last week, which includes sending more than 20,000 more US
troops to Baghdad and Anbar province to help Iraqi forces quell
sectarian killings.

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency