Edwards Seeks Help From Iran, Syria In Stabilizing Iraq

Saturday, July 14th 2007, 4:41 pm
By: News On 6

MAQUOKETA, Iowa (AP) _ Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Saturday the U.S. needs help from Syria and Iran in stabilizing Iraq and he called the Iraqi prime minister a weak leader.

Edwards again said that if he were president today, he would immediately draw reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq by about 50,000.

``The Iraqis are going to have to take responsibility, and they haven't,'' he told about 200 people at a town hall-style meeting in eastern Iowa.

The prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, says his country's army and police are capable of keeping security and that American troops can leave ``any time they want.''

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, told reporters that the U.S. ``should be making our own evaluation about the circumstances in Iraq'' and that al-Maliki has not proved effective in stopping violence.

``The Sunni leadership is very fragmented, al-Maliki is a weak leader, and there's been very little progress made to reach a fundamental political comprise, which is the whole issue,'' he said. ``If that were to occur, there would be a much higher chance of stability in Iraq.''

Other countries in the region, including U.S. foes Iran and Syria, must become involved in Iraq's future, Edwards said. ``We need to engage them directly into helping to stabilize Iraq,'' he said.

Later Saturday, Edwards joined Democratic rivals Joe Biden and Barack Obama at a workshop in Peosta. He told the hundreds of Democrats there that he thinks everyone in the United States should take part in volunteer work.

``The power in America, the capacity to change this country is out here,'' he said pointing to the crowd, ``It's not just in the Oval Office.''

Edwards said he has not decided whether such service should be volunteer or mandatory. ``I think all of us are going to have to take ownership and responsibility for what needs to be done in this country,'' he said.

Edwards is on a three-day campaign swing through Iowa that began Thursday.