US out of Iraq by end of the year

President Barack Obama declared on Friday an end to the Iraq war, one of the longest and most divisive conflicts in US history. He said all US troops would be withdrawn from the country by the end of 2011.

Obama’s statement ended months of wrangling over whether the US would maintain a force in Iraq beyond 2011. He never mentioned the tense and ultimately fruitless negotiations with Iraq over whether to keep several thousand US forces in Iraq as a training force and a hedge against meddling from Iran or other outside forces.

Instead, Obama spoke of a promise kept, a new day for a self-reliant Iraq, and a focus on building up the economy of the United States instead of a land far away.

“I can report that as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year,” Obama said. “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”

Obama spoke after a private video conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and he offered assurances that the two leaders agreed on the decision.

 The US military presence in Iraq stands at about 40,000. All US troops are to exit the country under a deal struck between the countries in 2008 when George W. Bush was president.

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