Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on the French government Sunday to apologize for comments reportedly made by the country's foreign minister that the Iraqi leader should step down.
"We welcomed their foreign minister and we were happy with his visit, but they have to show us respect," al-Maliki told reporters. "We call upon the French government to apologize about this issue."
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner visited Iraq this month in a highly symbolic gesture to the United States effort in Iraq after years of icy relations over the 2003 American-led invasion. Kouchner said Paris wanted to "turn the page" and look to the future.
However, in an interview with Newsweek magazine, Kouchner said he told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that al-Maliki has "got to be replaced."