Obama, Maliki optimistic for Iraq's future

April 7, 2009 at 5:44 PM
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BAGHDAD, April 7 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said he was convinced that U.S.-Iraqi resolve and commitment for the future will be greater than any obstacle encountered.

"Overall, violence continues to be down," Obama said in a joint appearance with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. "There's been movement on important political questions. But we have been reminded that there's more work to do."

Obama and Maliki spoke after the president met with U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno and addressed about 1,500 U.S. troops stationed near Baghdad on a surprise stop in the Iraqi capital.

Obama said he told Maliki the United States was "strongly committed to an Iraq that is sovereign and stable and self-reliant" and was committed "to a strategy that ensures an orderly, responsible transition from U.S. and coalition security forces to Iraqi security forces."

U.S. commanders know they must be "flexible but focused" on training and equipping Iraqi security forces for their eventual takeover of security duties. In February, Obama announced a drawdown schedule that called for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops by 2011.

Obama said he also indicated United States supported "political steps to be taken to resolve differences (among) various factions within Iraq" that would ensure a peaceful and prosperous future.

Maliki, through a translator, said, "We assured the president that all the progress that was made in the security area will continue so we will be able to continue our building effort, our progress in Iraq. The partnerships that were created and the agreements that were signed will be the base for the cooperation to improve our relationship."

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