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WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement after he and other Congressional leaders met privately this morning with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who addressed a Joint Session of Congress today:
"I am pleased that Prime Minister Maliki told the bicameral, bipartisan Congressional leadership this morning that he condemns terrorism 'in all its forms.' However, I frankly am disappointed that the Prime Minister has failed to join several other Arab leaders in criticizing the recent terrorist attacks by Hezbollah upon our ally Israel. There is absolutely no justification for the premeditated and unprovoked attacks by Hezbollah or Hamas on Israeli soldiers - which occurred on Israeli soil - or the indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.
"While it is indeed essential that the Mr. Maliki condemn terrorism, it also is imperative that the Prime Minister - as the leader of his country - do so publicly and forcefully.
"I also asked the Prime Minister this morning about the recent outrageous comments of Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani. The Speaker reportedly made hateful, anti-Semitic comments and said, 'The U.S. occupation is butcher's work under the slogan of democracy and human rights and justice.'
"The Speaker's comments are absolutely unacceptable and deeply offensive. Mr. Maliki assured Congressional leaders that he had spoken to the Speaker about his comments, and said that he condemns anything that inflames religious violence. He also assured us that the Speaker's comments were not representative of the views of those who serve in Iraq's government. However, I told Mr. Maliki that his condemnation of these outrageous comments must be expressed publicly and must be carried out as policy.
"I intend to meet with Iraq's Ambassador to the United States, Samir Shakir M. Sumaida'ie, in the near future and ensure that Mr. Maliki is indeed publicly speaking out against terrorism and scurrilous, intolerant statements by Iraqi officials that will only foment violence and hatred."