President Barack Obama has announced that all U.S. combat troops will leave Iraq by the end of 2011. The United States, in agreement with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, will then move into a new phase of its relations with Iraq, said Mr. Obama:
"As of January 1st, and in keeping with our Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq, it will be a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect."
President Obama promised that the partnership, which will include discussions about how the U.S. might help Iraq train and equip its military forces, will be strong and enduring:
"We will build new ties of trade and of commerce, culture and education that unleash the potential of the Iraqi people. We'll partner with an Iraq that contributes to regional security and peace, just as we insist that other nations respect Iraq's sovereignty."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that no country "should miscalculate about our continuing commitment to and with the Iraqis going forward." In an interview on NBC, she noted that while U.S. combat troops will be leaving Iraq, the U.S. has support and training assets nearby:
"So I don't think anyone should be mistaken about America's commitment to the new democracy in Iraq that we have sacrificed so much to help them achieve."
"Iraq," said Secretary of State Clinton, "is now a sovereign nation with democratically elected leadership, with a government that reflects the interests of different groups of Iraqis, and it is very much in America's interest going forward to make sure that this new democracy flourishes. And we will do everything we can to help make that a fact."