Said Carney, "This is a momentous visit..."
|President Obama shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. AP photo.|
Here's a bit more of Carney at the top of today's briefing in the James Brady briefing room at the White House.
As you know, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki is here to meet with the President. You will be seeing them both fairly soon.
And if I could just note, this is a momentous visit because, as you know, the Iraq war -- a war that we've been engaged in for 8 and a half years -- is over. And after eight and a half years of sacrifice, America's war in Iraq is coming to an end. Since President Obama took office, nearly 150,000 U.S. troops have been removed from Iraq and hundreds of bases have been shut down. In the next two weeks the final U.S. forces will cross the border. For the first time in over eight years no U.S. troops will be preparing to deploy to Iraq. We will have no bases in Iraq. The war is over and the troops are coming home.
We honor all Americans who have served in Iraq. Nearly 4,500 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice there; thousands more have been wounded. Over a million have served, and their families have sacrificed. Under tough circumstances, our troops and civilians have fulfilled every mission. As we end the war, we pay tribute to these Americans who have sacrificed so much.
The war in Iraq began in March of 2003, under the Bush administration, after suggesting Iraq casued the 911 attacks. Intell given to the President Bush also the country had weapons of mass destruction that could severly harm America.
We know where [the weapons of mass destruction] are, said Donald Rumsfeld, then US Defense Secretary. "They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
Since the war began ten years ago more than 2,000 US soldiers have died, and many wounded.
"When I took office, nearly 150,000 American troops were deployed in Iraq, and I pledged to end this war, responsibly. Today, only several thousand troops remain there, and more are coming home every day", said President Obama today speaking in a joint press conference with al-Maliki.
"This is a season of homecomings, and military families across America are being reunited for the holidays. In the coming days, the last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq, with honor and with their heads held high. After nearly nine years, our war in Iraq ends this month."
The two men traveled today to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown solider. This is the Prime Minister's second trip to Washington to visit President Obama. The two met before in 2009.
Remarks from the Prime Minister
Iraq had a political process established, a democratic process, and adoption of the principles of elections and the transfer -- peaceful transfer of authority. Iraq is following a policy, a foreign policy, which does not intervene in the affairs of others and does not allow the others to intervene in its own affairs. Iraq is looking for common grounds with the others, and establishes its interest at the forefront and the interest of the others, which it is concerned about, like from any confusion.
Your Excellency, today we meet in Washington after we have completed the first page of a constructive cooperation in which we also thank you and appreciate you for your commitment to everything that you have committed yourself to. And anyone who observes the nature of the relationship between the two countries will say that the relationship will not end with the departure of the last American soldier. It only started when we signed in 2008, in addition to the withdrawal treaty, the Strategic Framework Agreement for the relationship between our two countries.
And because we have proven success in the first mission, a very unique success -- nobody imagined that we would succeed in defeating terrorism and the al Qaeda -- we must also establish the necessary steps in order to succeed in our second stage, which is the dual relationship under the Strategic Framework Agreement, in the economic sphere, as well as in educational and commercial and cultural and judicial and security cooperation fields.
Iraq now has become -- reliant completely on its own security apparatus and internal security as a result of the expertise that it gained during the confrontations and the training and the equipping. But it remains in need of cooperation with the United States of America in security issues and information and combating terrorism, and in the area of training and the area of equipping, which is needed by the Iraqi army. And we have started that. And we want to complete the process of equipping the Iraqi army in order to protect our sovereignty, and does not violate the rights of anybody -- or do not take any missions that sovereignty of others.
US troops in Iraq ||| Iraq war Timeline ||| Remarks, in full