The United States ambassador sought on Wednesday to reassure Iraqis that U.S. policy would not dramatically alter after Democrats seized control of the U.S. House of Representatives in midterm elections.
In a videotape distributed by the embassy Wednesday morning, the Afghan-born envoy said President Bush "sees success (in Iraq) as imperative for American's national interests."
But some Iraqis voiced hope that the Democrats would be able to change U.S. foreign policy.
"I hope this will change the Bush policy in the Islamic world and especially in Iraq," said 48-year-old engineer Suheil Jabar, a Shiite Muslim. "We hope American foreign policy will change and that living conditions in Iraq will improve."
Khalilzad, a member of the neo-conservative wing of the Republican Party that pushed for the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, declared "Americans are prepared to continue to support Iraq as Iraqis take the needed steps."
The U.S. envoy was speaking at an election reception for Iraqi journalists. He took no questions during the videotaped remarks.
Some Iraqis hopes for a shift
However, some Iraqis voiced hope that the Democrats would be able to change U.S. policy in Iraq.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been at odds with Khalilzad after the U.S. envoy last month announced that the Iraqi government had agreed to a timeline for progress to reduce violence and to pass critical legislation designed to entice the Sunni insurgency into the political process. Al-Maliki hotly denied he was consulted and agreed.
The American diplomat, however, continued to hammer away at that theme.
"In the coming weeks and months, American leaders will discuss ways that America can encourage Iraqi leaders to take these necessary steps," Khalilzad said in brief remarks at the American Embassy.
Khalilzad could be seen shaking hands with some in the audience afterward, but it was not clear who was in attendance.
"The president is the architect of U.S. foreign policy," the ambassador said by way of reassuring Iraqis. "He is the commander in chief of our armed forces. He understands what is at stake in Iraq.
"He sees success as imperative for America's national interest. He is committed to working with both houses of the American Congress to get the support needed for the mission in Iraq to succeed."
Shiite official criticizes U.S. policy
Reda Jawad Taqi, a lawmaker and political spokesman for Iraq's largest Shiite political organization, said Republicans lost control of the House because the Bush administration was following a flawed policy in Iraq "that was exploited by the Democrats."
He said the major U.S. failure had been its inability to bring security to Iraq, which crippled reconstruction efforts.
"We hope that these flawed policies will not continue," said Taqi, the spokesman for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.