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WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader-Elect Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement this morning after Congressional leaders were briefed on the Iraq Study Group's report and recommendations:
"Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle deeply appreciate the hard work and commitment of this distinguished, bipartisan Iraq Study Group. None of us should be mistaken about the panel's overriding message to the President and the American people today: It is absolutely imperative that our nation undertake a major course correction in Iraq without delay.
"As Democrats and many Republicans have been saying, our policy in Iraq is not succeeding and it must be changed. Even Robert Gates, the President's Secretary of Defense nominee, acknowledged this fact yesterday when he said in his Senate confirmation hearing the United States is not winning in Iraq.
"Clearly, it is long past time for a major course correction in Iraq. The President of the United States must adjust his thinking and his policy, which is failing. Hopefully, the Iraq Study Group's report will help instigate the real change that is needed.
"I believe, for example, that the Iraq Study Group correctly concludes that we must hold the Iraqis accountable for achieving agreed-upon objectives. This is the logical extension of the widely held view that the Iraqis must assume responsibility for their future. In addition, I believe that we must move forward with a regional conference of Iraq's neighbors, as well as direct talks with both Syria and Iran. In fact, the Democrats have called for such a regional conference for some time. Indeed, it was long-standing U.S. policy before this Administration to talk to nations that were not allies. Furthermore, I agree with the call for a new diplomatic initiative to get other nations involved in stabilizing Iraq. The international community, not just the United States, has an obligation in that nation.
"Without question, the American people voted for a change of direction in Iraq. In the days ahead, we must come together to achieve a bipartisan way forward that serves our national interests."