|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MARCH 25, 2005
|CONTACT: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
Brendan Daly or Jennifer Crider, 202-226-7616
Pelosi Statement on Congressional Delegation to the Middle East
WASHINGTON -- March 25 -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement on the Congressional Delegation she led to the Middle East to assess the war in Iraq, the region's prospects for peace, and economic and political reform. Pelosi was joined by Representatives Darrel Issa (R- Calif.), George Miller (D-Calif.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), James McGovern (D- Mass.), and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.). The Members traveled to Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt from March 18 to March 25, returning to the United States today. Pelosi's statement follows:
"I chose to lead this experienced and talented delegation to the Middle East as my first overseas trip in the new Congress because of the significance of the region to the United States and the world. While there are winds of change and reason for optimism in the region, the delegation found continuing tension between the forces for change and those invested in old conflicts.
"All of us on the delegation were inspired by the courage and dedication of the outstanding men and women who wear our country's uniform. Their positive attitude, while faced with many difficult challenges, should be a source of pride to all Americans.
"One of the primary purposes of our mission was to assess the political and security situation in Iraq, especially efforts to establish an effective Iraqi police force and army. Although progress has been made, there is a significant way to go until the Iraqis are capable of providing for their security. It was particularly frustrating that we did not hear how far that distance is, because it is an essential factor is determining when our troops can come home.
"We met with Vice President Jafari and other Iraqi leaders on the next steps in the formation of a transitional government, the drafting of the constitution, and preparations for the elections later this year. It is essential that the constitution guarantee all Iraqis the right to fully participate in the political process.
"There is a sense of optimism that an opportunity exists to make real progress in resolving differences between Israelis and Palestinians. While difficult and complex problems remain, one cannot underestimate the people's desire for an end to violence. If confidence and trust grows, innovative approaches can be taken that will bring security to Israel and a viable state to Palestinians.
"Syria's announced intension to withdraw from Lebanon is a step that is long overdue. But threats to Lebanon's security will remain until all militias, especially Hezbollah, are disarmed.
"When we paid our respects to the widow of Prime Minister Hariri and visited his grave, we were sadly and profoundly reminded that a new day for Lebanon has come at a high cost. The spirit of the Lebanese people and the determination of so many to manage their affairs without Syrian interference is evidence of the country's rich traditions which Mr. Hariri's life exemplified.
Jordan and Egypt
"Economic progress and improvements in health care and education in Jordan, and steps toward political reform in Egypt demonstrate that positive change is spreading across the region. The United States should encourage additional changes so that people in the Middle East can see the path to a brighter future for their families and countries."