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Maliki: Don't Withdraw U.S. Troops Too Quickly

The war in Iraq is a key part of the war on terrorism, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told a joint session of Congress Wednesday. Maliki thanked the United States for removing Saddam Hussein -- and urged that U.S. troops not leave before Iraq is stable.

The Iraqi leader also asked for funds to help rebuild his country. But his central theme was that Iraq's fate and that of the United States are linked -- and that Iraq is the main front in the war against terrorism.

"This is a battle between true Islam," Maliki said, "… and terrorism, which wraps itself in a fake Islamic cloak."

Near the end of his 27-minute speech, Maliki reminded Congress that he and other Iraqi Shiites rose up against Saddam Hussein in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War.

"In 1991, when Iraqis tried to capitalize on the regime's momentary weakness and rose up," Maliki said, "we were alone again. The people of Iraq will not forget your continued support as we establish a secure, liberal democracy. Let 1991 never be repeated, for history will be more unforgiving."

He did not mention that it was President Bush's father who made the decision in 1991 not to topple Saddam as the Shiites had hoped.

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David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.