Rice Cites Progress in Iraq

(New York Times) Steven R. Weisman - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday that progress was being made in securing Iraq, but declined to predict when American forces could withdraw or to rule out widening the war to Syria. Rice said for the first time that the American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, had the "flexibility" to reach out to Iranian envoys to discuss the problem of insurgents entering Iraq from Iranian territory. There were also hints in her testimony of mounting American impatience with countries unwilling to support Iraq financially and politically, and the unwillingness of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-dominated Arab countries to do more to encourage Iraqi Sunnis to work with Shiites. Asked about news reports that fighting on the border could spread to Syria, Rice repeatedly indicated that no options were being ruled out. Rice offered a cutting comment about Saudi Arabia, which administration officials say has not come forward with aid or debt relief commensurate to its wealth. Asked about the recent comments of the Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, that Iraq was disintegrating, she said: "I really think that the proper role for Saudi Arabia or for any other country in the region is to help them, not critique them." Administration officials say Rice was incensed by Prince Saud's comment last month.

2005-10-20 00:00:00

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