Iraqi Prime Minister Addresses US Congress

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says Iraq is the frontline in the global war on terror.

Mr. Maliki this hour addressed members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He said the ongoing violence in Iraq is a battle between, in his words, "true Islam and terrorism which wraps itself in a fake Islamic cloth." He thanked the American people for standing with Iraq.

Mr. Maliki is trying to shore up support for his young government as it seeks to end the rising sectarian violence in Iraq. Many U.S. lawmakers have voiced concern about the increased bloodshed.

The Iraqi leader faced criticism from some Democratic lawmakers for his condemnation of Israel's offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

Senate Democratic leaders have urged him to clarify his remarks, while some House Democrats called on the Republican leadership to cancel Mr. Maliki's address.

President Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley, urged lawmakers not to miss an opportunity to hear from the Iraqi leader about his government's plans.

At the White House Tuesday, Mr. Bush and Mr. Maliki announced plans to increase the number of U.S. troops in Baghdad to help stem the increasing sectarian violence in Iraq's capital.

Mr. Maliki said his government's responsibility is to protect all Iraqis, regardless of their ethnic or religious background.