September 10, 2009

CARDIN EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR U.S. DRAWDOWN, CONCERN OVER IRAQ-SYRIA RIFT

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, released the following statement in response to today's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iraq featuring U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill:

"I'm pleased with the performance of U.S. forces as our drawdown efforts continue.  In his testimony, Ambassador Hill notes huge gains in Iraqi forces' capabilities and cohesion.  Further gains must be encouraged, and U.S. forces must continue to come home.  

"As the U.S. drawdown continues, the relationship between Iraq and its neighbors will be increasingly important.  I'm concerned with the recent deterioration in the Iraq-Syria relationship.  Iraq has accused Syria of harboring militants suspected in August 19 attacks that killed nearly 100 people in Baghdad.  The two countries subsequently have recalled their Ambassadors.  I visited Syria earlier this year, and discussed ways to improve the U.S.-Syria relationship with President Assad.  Stemming the flow of foreign fighters from Syria to Iraq and building a healthy relationship between Syria and Iraq is important for the region and for U.S. interests.  I look forward to a resolution of this dispute."