Obama announces end of U.S. combat mission in Iraq

09:30, September 01, 2010      

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U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday declared the end of combat operations in Iraq, saying the United States has met its responsibility and "it is time to turn the page."

"Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country," Obama said in an Oval Office address to the nation.

He urged Iraqi leaders to form an inclusive government "with a sense of urgency," as worries mount in the United States that Iraqis won't be able to secure their own nation after the U.S. drawdown.

Iraq has been unable to form a government months after the March 7 parliamentary elections, and insurgents have exploited the political vacuum, launching deadly attacks all over Iraq.

Maliki notes Iraqi security forces capable of taking over security after U.S. troops pullout

Obama said although U.S. combat mission is ending in Iraq, its "commitment to Iraq's future is not," as about 50,000 U.S. troops will stay there to advise and assist Iraqi security forces. All U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year according to a Bush-era agreement.

Reflecting the costs of the war, Obama said ending it is not only in Iraq's interest, but also in the Unites State's own. "We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home."

The United States is also fighting another war in Afghanistan. Obama said open-ended war serves neither U.S. nor Afghan interests, and the U.S. forces will begin security responsibility transition to Afghan troops next July, but "the pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground."

As the country begin to wind down its two wars, Obama said the most urgent task at hand is to restore the economy, and he is shifting his priorities to the economic front.

"We have spent over a trillion dollars at war...This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits," Obama said, vowing to "put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work."

"In the days to come," reviving the economy "must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as president."

Source: Xinhua


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