(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said Monday he has no doubt Iraq will succeed as an independent, post-war nation, but that history will judge America’s decision to invade the country nearly nine years ago.
Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stood side-by-side following a morning meeting at the White House where they discussed the final days of U.S. troop presence in Iraq and future relations between the two countries.
“As we end this war and as Iraq faces its future, the Iraqi people must know that you will not stand alone,” Obama told al-Maliki during a joint news conference. “You have a strong and enduring partner in the United States of America.”
About 6,000 U.S. troops remain in advance of the Dec. 31 withdraw deadline, down from 170,000 at the peak in 2007.
Obama said that the United States will maintain a “strong diplomatic presence” inside Iraq—including about 16,000 people working in the embassy in Baghdad, but that all troops will leave the country and all military bases will close.
Following a joint press conference, Obama and al-Maliki visited Arlington National Cemetery, where nearly 4,500 Americans killed during the war are buried.
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