Source AP ©

Iraqi PM: no one has right to put timetables on government

Iraq's prime minister is fed up with American critics. He said Wednesday that no one has a right to put timetables on his elected government.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki blamed the U.S. presidential campaign for the recent tough words from the Bush administration and from other American politicians.

"No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people," he said at a press conference in Damascus at the end of a three-day visit to Syria.

"Those who make such statements are bothered by our visit to Syria. We will pay no attention. We care for our people and our constitution and can find friends elsewhere," al-Maliki said.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said on Monday that al-Maliki should be ousted and replaced with a less sectarian leader.

In addition, both U.S. President George W. Bush and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on Tuesday voiced frustration and disappointment with the al-Maliki government.

The harsh exchange erupted just a few weeks before Crocker and the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, are to report to Congress on the success of the latest military campaign to tamp down violence in Iraq, and the Iraqi government's progress in achieving political reconciliation.

Without naming any American official, al-Maliki said some of the criticism of him and his government was "discourteous."

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