Iraq's Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders are continuing efforts to break an impasse that has prevented them from forming a new government. The Iraqi politicians met Saturday, but failed to settle their differences. A group of visiting U.S. senators also met with political leaders in Baghdad Saturday and delivered a stark message that the United States was losing patience with the government stalemate and wanted results soon.
Speaking after a meeting with interim President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, U.S. Senator John McCain said a national unity government must be formed as soon as possible. He said American citizens consider Iraq's success at forming a government an important benchmark for the withdrawal of U.S. forces there.
"All Americans and all Iraqis would like to see the Americans withdraw, but only after the Iraqi people have a government that can guarantee their security their safety and their future," McCain says.
Senator McCain, a powerful member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, had voted to send the U.S. troops into Iraq, but he also expressed concern lately about the lenght of their mission in the country.
It was the second visit to Iraq by a high-level U.S. delegation in less than a week, delivering the same stark message to Iraqi politicians as the Bush Administration steps up pressure to overcome the political impasse.
The high-level congressional visit comes as several polls show American voters increasingly worried that civil war could break out in Iraq. Political analysts say disenchantment with the war effort could significantly impact the U.S. mid-term elections set for November.
Separately, the U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, called on Iraq's divided leaders Saturday to take control of militias that are threatening to tear the country apart.
The U.S. ambassador said more Iraqis are dying from militia violence than from terrorists.