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Iraq's Maliki Lashes Out at US, French Critics

  • VOA News

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has angrily rebuked U.S. politicians who are calling for his removal from office.

At a news conference in Baghdad on Sunday, Mr. Maliki said Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Carl Levin of the Democratic Party need to "come to their senses." He says the two politicians talk about Iraq as if it were their property.

Mr. Maliki also criticized the US military for killing civilians during recent raids against militants in Shi'ite areas of Baghdad.

He says it is unacceptable for US forces to, in his words, "kill 10 innocent people" when they try to detain a suspected terrorist.

US forces often target Shi'ite militants in Baghdad's Sadr City district. Iraqi officials often report civilians killed in the raids.

Mr. Maliki also demanded an apology from France today after Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was quoted in a US magazine as saying the Iraqi prime minister should be ousted.

In the interview with "Newsweek," Kouchner says he recently told his American counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, that Mr. Maliki has "got to be replaced." He says the Iraqi government is "not functioning."

Kouchner says he believes Iraq's Shi'ite Vice President, Adil Abdul-Mahdi would be a good replacement as prime minister.

But, Kouchner says he is unsure if such a change will happen because of President Bush's support for Mr. Maliki.

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