President Bush acknowledged frustration with the troubled government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday but said it's up to the Iraqi people to decide whether to continue supporting him.
Stopping short of offering an endorsement, Bush said it was not up to the United States to give a verdict on al-Maliki's government.
"The fundamental question is, will the government respond to the demands of the people," the president said. "And if the government doesn't ... respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government. That's up to the Iraqis to make that decision, not American politicians."
Bush was asked about the situation in Iraq at a news conference where he joined Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon in wrapping up a North American summit.
A day earlier, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, urged the Iraqi assembly to oust the U.S.-backed al-Maliki and replace his government with one that is less sectarian and more unifying.
"The Iraqis will decide," Bush insisted. "They have decided they want a constitution. They have elected members to their parliament and they will make the decisions just like democracies do."
Over the last year, Bush has made a linguistic shift on al-Maliki. When they met in Jordan last November, the president called al-Maliki "the right guy for Iraq."
More recently, however, Bush has taken more of a wait-and-see approach, saying that what matters is whether al-Maliki performs.
Bush encouraged more patience with the Iraqi government. He said there was change at the grass roots level in Iraq, with citizens "beginning to reject the extremists."
Bush said Iraq had "made a great step toward reconciliation when they passed the most modern constitution in the Middle East and now their government's got to perform.
"And I think there's a certain level of frustration with the leadership in general, inability to work -- come together to get, for example, an oil revenue law passed or provincial elections," Bush said.
While the Iraqi parliament has recessed for the month of August, the president said lawmakers already had passed 60 pieces of legislation and have a budget process that distributes money from the central government to provinces.
Shortly after Bush spoke, the State Department said the Bush administration supports the al-Maliki government.
"We stand forthrightly behind them," spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos told reporters. "We're going to continue working with them.
Last Mod: 22 Ağustos 2007, 01:15