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McCain Meets with Iraqi Foreign Minister

By Juliet Eilperin
Presumptive GOP nominee John McCain (R-Ariz.) met privately with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari this morning at his campaign headquarters, before emerging to praise the minister and take a handful of questions from a pool of reporters.

McCain, who arrived at his Crystal City headquarters with a venti Starbucks beverage in hand, joked with Zebari that his campaign had not quite mastered the hospitality standards due to foreign leaders.

"I was gonna offer you some coffee," McCain said to Zebari. He pointed to an empty table, and then made his standard joke. "We have a well-oiled machine."

After talking behind closed doors for a half hour, McCain and Zebari invited reporters into the meeting. Both men complimented each other on their work, and expressed their faith that the war in Iraq was succeeding.

Referring the Status of Forces Agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, McCain told reporters, "Any agreement will be based on partnership and in the national security interests of both countries... It's very important that we not let any of this success slip away and the relationship and partnership that has led -- and the new strategy that has led to the success that it has, I am confident will continue."

Zebari delivered his own statement, saying the evidence of the surge's progress is now visible.

"I have said to the senator that Iraq nowadays, thanks to the surge strategy and to the growth of Iraqi military security capabilities, Iraq has the lowest level of violence since the last four years," he said. "And we, I think, have the right policies, we have the right personnel now and we are working together in fact to realize a Democratic Iraq, a stable and peaceful Iraq and to be a partner to the United States."

When asked whether he would meet with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the foreign minister said he would make time to brief the presumptive Democratic nominee during his U.S. stay.

"We will have an opportunity to speak to Senator Obama also on this trip. Again to explain the same situation to him in Iraq," the foreign minister said. "I'd also give -- we are not a part, in fact, of the U.S. election whatsoever. I think this is a decision for the American public. But it's in our interest, in fact, to brief both candidates on the reality of the situation, the way we see it from our perspective, from people who've been at the thick of this conflict, so yes, indeed, we will have that opportunity."

Zebari said he and senator discussed how they both look forward to a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, but that the moment had not arrived for that exit.

"Both agreed neither of us want that state, troops to stay there for indefinitely, forever in Iraq. And we look for the day when these forces will come back, with dignity and in a victorious manner but still there is some time to realize that," he said. "Recently there has been some withdrawal of U.S. Army units that have participated in the surge strategy and the situation remains stable, this is a very positive development. So this process might continue in the future but I think this has been negotiated at the moment in this bilateral agreement."

When McCain was asked whether he would commit to defending Iraq indefinitely -- something Iraqi officials have demanded, and which Obama has refused to do -- the Arizona senator sidestepped the question altogether before ushering Zebari out of the meeting.

"Well, the fact is that the situation on the ground is that we have made enormous success and the surge has worked. Senator Obama was wrong when he said it would fail. Senator Obama was wrong when he said that we had to have an immediate date of withdrawal from troops from Iraq," McCain said. "He's just wrong. The facts on the ground clearly indicate that. As I've always said and the foreign minister just said, we have and can -- with the success of the strategy -- withdraw American troops. And that's success. That's the way wars end when you win, is that you succeed and then you withdraw."

Posted at 1:34 PM ET on Jun 15, 2008  | Category:  John McCain
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Comments

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Mccain, we are behind you this november.
We vote for mccain - OBAMA ? never!

Posted by: allan beltran | June 16, 2008 9:59 PM

Get a life!!

Posted by: carolinagirl_getalife | June 16, 2008 8:10 PM

ALL this talk about security imrovement in Iraq is,simply, not true.
Less sectarian killings are due to Iraq(and Baghdad in particular)becoming divided along sectarian lines,with people remaining,generally,confined within their communities.
Less kidnappings are due the near now absence of people wealthy enough to be worth kidnapping.They are either dead or have fled the country.
Nobody welcomes an occupation army(in any form).But,besides the US,Iraq is already occupied,by proxy,by Iran.
Surely the US did not invade Iraq for the freedom of its people.

The US ,whether Republican or Democrat,will NEVER leave Iraq.

Posted by: Mubdir Al-khudhair | June 16, 2008 3:41 PM

Someone should have asked the old man if the Foreign Minister was a Shiite or a Sunni.

Posted by: swalker3 | June 16, 2008 12:30 PM

Don't elect McCain. He has gross thumbs.

The surge is succeeding and the left still can't face the fact that eventually they are going to have to stop rooting for the US to fail.

Posted by: Ryan | June 16, 2008 10:49 AM

Fine, the surge worked. But can McCain tell why it took four long years to figure out the surge was needed? If I am not mistaken, it was not even his idea, although he supported it.

Does the Iraqi Government want us there to fund all the destruction we had caused? I guess that is one scenario. We will have to pay for many years to come. What a bummer.

Posted by: Puffin | June 16, 2008 10:49 AM

Remember that success in Iraq means movement towards the two goals which Paul Wolfowitz established 5 yrs. prior to the "invasion." According to Paul's Plan (co-authored by Dick Cheney), we (the US) needed a satellite State in the middle-east for two reasons: US strategic needs and Israel's strategic needs.

So, as long as one or the other objective is being met, the war will be seen as a success. In other words, merely having a standing army geographically closeby meets objective number 2 for as long as it is stationed there and McBush's 100 years is the only 1 year longer than the agreement being negotiated by the Bush Administration today. McBush sees it as a reasonable price to pay regardless of objective number 1.

Posted by: Will | June 16, 2008 10:43 AM

Do you think he even knew who he was talking to? Ah heck, he'll deny it all tomorrow. McCain is proving himself to be more inept every day. The maverick is no more - he's a gelding now that he's the gop nominee.

Posted by: Julie | June 16, 2008 10:17 AM

And this is a story because why, John McCain said so come on Washington POst i know it was a short weekend but stop promoting his campaign. IRAQ is not the answer, our soldiers coming home is important. Report on that.

Posted by: Fred | June 16, 2008 8:37 AM

I cannot wait until Obama and McCain hold townhall debates. Obama has a transparent veneer that only the intellectually challenged do not see through. McCain will show the American people how clumsy this comic demagogue is. The exaggerated hand and head gestures along with fist bumping and ass slapping give Obama the childish aura of a chicken on the outlook for a fox. Lookout chicken, here comes the fox.

Posted by: sullivant | June 15, 2008 10:21 PM

If he spent as much time attending to other problems this country has, he might to be fit to be president. He is obsessed with Iraq and claims his will not be a third Bush term. Not only can't he walk the walk, he can't talk the talk of independence from Bush.

Posted by: Gator-ron | June 15, 2008 10:01 PM

In the end, they just can't stomach snuggling up to the smelly old geezer with the high-water pants and jelly on his shirt.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 8:46 PM

Ahh another McCain press release reprinted in the Washingtonpost.

Posted by: Julian | June 15, 2008 7:49 PM

Pretending to be involved in world diplomacy. What a farce.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 6:42 PM

Photo opportunity, little more.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2008 6:40 PM

Cindy McCain's drug life story is coming soon to a tv near you.

Posted by: SallyM | June 15, 2008 5:16 PM

John McThumbs!! I wonder if he scared the foreign minister off when he started chopping the desk with those gross thumbs sticking up? I wonder did he recall which country the guy was from? Do you think he called the man's wife the "c" word when she didn't serve him tea?

Posted by: carolinagirl | June 15, 2008 5:11 PM

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