U.S. House speaker leads delegation to Iraq to assess next steps

08:26, April 18, 2011      

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U.S. House Speaker John Boehner led a six-member congressional delegation to Iraq this weekend in a bid to assess America's next steps there, as remaining U.S. forces are scheduled to leave the war-torn country by year-end, the speaker's office said in a statement on Sunday.

Boehner arrived in Baghdad on Saturday for his surprising and first visit to Iraq since he became the House speaker in January.

According to the statement, Boehner believed security in Iraq has improved, saying Iraq now is a "different country."

"By taking the fight to al-Qaeda, the insurgency, and other terrorist threats, our men and women in uniform succeeded in providing greater security to the Iraqi population and giving the government the time to build capacity to more effectively meet the needs of the Iraqi people," he said in the statement.

Boehner said America's first priority must be "ensuring that the remaining 46,000 U.S. forces and their civilian counterparts that are working with the Iraqi government and advising and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces have the resources and support they need to complete their mission."

He said the United States should also continue to assist and engage with the Iraqi government to ensure that "the hard-fought gains in a post-combat Iraq translate into long-term success."

"The delegation focused on the issues expected to determine how the Government of Iraq and the United States proceed during the transition this year and how we will continue to work to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship moving forward which fully respects Iraq's sovereignty and reflects core U.S. interests and values," Boehner said in the statement.

Source: Xinhua
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