Pelosi, Lantos visit Baghdad

pelosi-and-al-maliki.jpgHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, led a senior bipartisan Congressional delegation to Baghdad today, meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other officials even as a bomb blast killed 15 people and wounded 55 in one of Baghdad’s marketplaces.

Also on the trip were Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo; Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo.; Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas; Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha, D-Pa.; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-NY; and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member David Hobson, R-Ohio.

The delegation just released this statement via Pelosi’s office:

Our delegation traveled to Iraq to thank our troops for the way they are doing their difficult jobs under extremely dangerous conditions. We expressed our unwavering support for them, and for their families, as well as our hope that they will come home safely and soon.

In meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad, and senior U.S. military officers, including multi-national commander General George Casey, we stressed our belief that it is well past time for the Iraqis to take primary responsibility for the security of their nation. The delegation’s view is that American forces should quickly begin to transition from a combat role to one focused on training, counter-terrorism, force protection, and controlling Iraq’s borders.

We are convinced that there must be a political solution to the problems in Iraq. The sooner Iraqi leaders make necessary political accommodations, including amending their constitution to resolve outstanding differences among all Iraqi communities, the better the chances for ending the sectarian violence. We encourage active diplomacy in the region.

We were inspired by the patriotism and dedication of the American troops we were privileged to meet. We left Iraq with a renewed appreciation for their courage and the selflessness they bring to the great service they provide to our country.

UPDATE – Read Tom Lantos’ statement after the jump…

Said Lantos:

lantos.jpgWhat we saw and heard in Baghdad leaves me even more convinced than before that the Administration’s ‘stay the course’ approach will only lead us deeper into disaster. Placing more of our troops in harm’s way in order to shore up a failed policy is unconscionably reckless and only compounds the mistakes already made.

This country needs to concentrate more on involving regional powers in stabilizing Iraq and assisting with its reconstruction. The Administration has given diplomacy short shrift in its dealings with the situation in Iraq from the start. And while you cannot unscramble an omelet, there are better ways to clean up this mess than throwing more of the same ingredients into it.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.