Obama to Thank Troops for Iraq Service

Posted December 14th, 2011 at 1:55 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is visiting a military base in North Carolina Wednesday, where the White House says he will thank the troops who have served in Iraq.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Mr. Obama will discuss the sacrifices Americans have made during the nearly nine-year war, while marking the continuing relationship between the United States and Iraq going forward.

Carney called the withdrawal of U.S. forces by December 31 a “significant moment,” and said the president's visit to Fort Bragg is a chance to remember how big of an issue the war has been at home.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is expected to accompany Mr. Obama, as he continues a visit to the United States. On Tuesday, Mr. Maliki extended an open invitation to U.S. companies to help rebuild his country.

He told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that it was not the “generals” who were playing a leading role in Baghdad's future, but instead corporations and business leaders.

Mr. Maliki also said Iraqi officials were “not satisfied” with the number of U.S. firms in the country and wanted more.

The White House says it believes Iraq is ready to handle its own security, and that while there will be violence, it has been diminishing as key figures resolve differences democratically.

Mr. Maliki and Mr. Obama held talks Monday at the White House to outline a broad agenda for post-war cooperation, pledging to ensure Iraq's political stability and strengthen its national security.

Mr. Obama said Iraq can be “a model for others aspiring to build democracy,” and that this justified the U.S. “blood and treasure” expended there.

Mr. Maliki thanked the U.S. for its “commitments.” He said cooperation is still needed, especially in counter-terrorism, training security forces and equipping the Iraqi army.