Obama discusses Iraq with U.S. commander, ambassador

09:19, July 23, 2010      

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U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday met with Commander of U.S. forces in Iraq Ray Odierno and Ambassador Chris Hill in the White House, discussing development in Iraq and the drawdown of U.S. forces there.

According to the White House, Hill and Odierno provided Obama with an update on the status of Iraqi negotiations to form a new government, the security situation on the ground, and the drawdown of U.S. forces leading up to the end of combat mission at the end of August.

Odierno reported that security incidents across Iraq remain at the lowest level since the United States has kept records, and the U.S. forces are ahead of schedule in executing the planned drawdown to 50,000 troops by the end of August.

The U.S. forces last year pulled out of Iraqi cities and are working to formally end combat operations by Sept. 1 this year, cutting the U.S. military force from just under 90,000 to 50,000. A full withdrawal is also in sight at the end of 2011.

Odierno on Wednesday said the main challenges left for Iraq's independence are political unity and financial solvency. Iraq's political blocs are still discussing the formation of a new government, months after the March 7 elections.

During the meeting on Thursday, Obama said it is time for Iraq' s leaders to form a government without delay.

In a sign of impatience with Iraq's prolonged negotiations to form a government, Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday called Iraqi political leaders, urging them to form "without delay" a government. He spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister and State of Law leader Nouri al-Maliki and with former prime minister and Iraqiyya leader Ayad Allawi.

Hill and General Odierno are visiting Washington, D.C. to participate in a July 23 CENTCOM-sponsored conference on planning for the U.S. transition from a military to a civilian lead in Iraq.

Source: Xinhua


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