Obama says US on schedule to leave Iraq

July 22, 2009 12:39:12 PM PDT
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that despite continuing violence in Iraq, the U.S. is on schedule to remove all troops by the end of 2011. Standing in the Rose Garden alongside Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Obama said the nations were in the midst of a "full transition" that would be based on mutual interest and respect.

It was Obama's first meeting with al-Maliki at the White House. He met with him in Iraq in April.

Obama said that the U.S. withdrawal would "send an unmistakable signal that we will keep our commitments with the Iraqi people." The two leaders met three weeks after U.S. troops withdrew from Iraqi cities in advance of the full withdrawal.

Obama said the United States does not seek any military bases in Iraq and makes no claim on Iraqi oil resources or territory.

For his part, al-Maliki said the two presidents talked about "every possible area" where the U.S. could play a role in working with the Iraqi government.

"We are about to activate such a strategic framework agreement," he said.

Al-Maliki is in the United States in an effort to encourage foreign investors to return to doing business in his country. He said Iraqi forces have become "highly capable" after working alongside American troops.

Al-Maliki also pledged to work to ease sectarian unrest in his country.

With insurgent bombings and attacks still a major danger as Iraqi forces assume a larger police role, U.S. officials have voiced concerns about continuing violence unless al-Maliki and his Shiite Muslim political allies do more to share power with minority Sunnis and to ease government control over Sunni regions and those dominated by ethnic Kurds.


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