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Senators: Iraq needs new government soon

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • U.S. senators in Iraq say the country needs to form new government
  • Election was in March, but negotiations for key positions ongoing
  • Senators praise the progress Iraq has made in past years

(CNN) -- A delegation of U.S. senators on a visit to Iraq said they were impressed with the progress the country has made over the past few years, but urged political factions to form a new government soon.

Senators John McCain, R-Arizona, Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, spoke to reporters at a news conference during their visit Saturday.

Vice President Joe Biden also arrived in Iraq Saturday to celebrate the July 4 holiday with U.S. troops.

"Baghdad to us now is a very different city than when we first came here," Lieberman said. "It's thriving, it's clean, there's growth going on, it's great to see."

McCain echoed those sentiments, noting that the delegation was able to walk through downtown Baghdad to a bakery.

Graham added, "What's happened in three years is amazing."

The U.S. senators also pressed Iraqi politicians to select a new government. Elections were held in March, where former Prime Minister's Ayad Allawi's bloc slightly edged out a bloc led by current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The newly sworn in Iraqi parliament has begun negotiations to choose a new government, including a new prime minister, but the process has been slow.

A new government should be selected that reflects the election results and the will of the Iraqi people, McCain said. Hopefully the negotiations will provide results as soon as possible, he said.

Graham honored the American troops and Iraqi troops who lost their lives in the war.

"The Iraqi people have suffered for their own freedom," he said.