BAGHDAD Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki hit back on Sunday at Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton and other U.S. critics who have called for him to be replaced, telling them "to come to their senses".
Maliki is under mounting pressure from officials in Washington to show political progress towards reconciling his majority Shi'ite Muslim sect and minority Sunni Arabs. U.S. officials are frustrated by the negligible progress so far.
Clinton and fellow Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, have called for Maliki to be voted out because of his failure to find a political solution to Iraq's bitter sectarian violence.
"There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin," Maliki told a news conference.
"This is severe interference in our domestic affairs. Carl Levin and Hillary Clinton are from the Democratic Party and they must demonstrate democracy.
"I ask them to come back to their senses and to talk in a respectful way about Iraq."
Democrats in Congress have criticized President George W. Bush's Iraq policy and called for U.S. troops to begin pulling out as soon as possible.
Bush offered renewed support for Maliki last week but acknowledged that many were frustrated by the lack of political progress towards national reconciliation.