Pelosi defends trip to Middle East,
blasts Bush administration's "poverty of ideas"
Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference Tuesday at the Philip
Burton federal building in San Francisco to discuss her recent
trip to the Middle East. Pelosi has come under fire from Republicans
who have accused Pelosi of upstaging President Bush.
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
April 10, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said
in San Francisco today that "there was no difference between
the message the President is setting forth and the message of
our group" during her recent visit to Syria.
Pelosi said at a news conference at the Federal Building, "We
left our differences at home. We are unified as a country."
The congresswoman, a San Francisco Democrat, led a congressional
delegation of four Democratic committee chairmen, another Democrat
who is the House's only Muslim. and one Republican on a trip to
the Middle East last week.
The group visited Israel, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories,
Syria and Saudi Arabia.
Pelosi was criticized by some Republicans for allegedly giving
Syrian President Bashar al Assad a message that differed from
President Bush's position when she discussed an overture by Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for a possible resumption of peace
But the speaker said, "Our message to President Assad was
a very direct one and was very consistent with President Bush's
She said the group made clear that peace talks with Syria can't
begin until that country openly takes steps to stop supporting
One of Pelosi's critics was Vice President Dick Cheney, who accused
Pelosi of "bad behavior" in her message to Assad.
Asked about that comment, Pelosi said, "I think it's an
indication of the poverty of ideas of this administration to bring
peace to the region."
Another delegation member, Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, noted
at the news conference that three Republican congressmen visited
the Syrian president three days before Pelosi's delegation.
Lantos said of the criticism of Pelosi, "I do not know whether
it is more pathetic or more hypocritical."
Rep. Tom Lantos
Lantos, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called
the trip "a magnificent visit" by a "well-balanced
Pelosi was asked about comments in which President Bush today
invited her and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to
discuss a war spending bill in which Congress is seeking to impose
timetables for troop withdrawals from Iraq. Bush has threatened
to veto such a bill.
Pelosi said she and Reid were willing to talk to Bush, but not
if the condition is that there can be no serious negotiations.
"The president wants a blank check and the Democrats don't
want to give it to him," she said.
Pelosi asserted, "The American people have lost faith in
President Bush's conduct of this war."
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