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Biden assures Iraqi leaders of U.S. commitment.

Summary: U.S. vice president meets with Kurdistan Region President

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden assured Iraqi leaders the withdrawal of U.S. forces does not mean the end of his government's support for Iraq but that both sides will remain tied based on their strategic agreement.

"It is true the U.S. forces will pull out of Iraq, but the United States' commitment towards Iraq and Kurdistan Region will remain present," Biden said, reported the Kurdish version of the Kurdistan Region Presidency website.

On the last day of his visit to Iraq to mark the end of the Iraq War, Biden arrived in Erbil on Dec. 1 to meet with Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani and KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih.

President Barzani said the Kurdistan people greatly appreciate the sacrifices made by U.S. forces to help topple the "dictator regime" and in "establishing a federal democratic system" in Iraq.

Furthermore, both sides reaffirmed they will develop political and diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iraq and Kurdistan Region.

Before traveling to Erbil, Biden officially celebrated the end of the Iraq War and said the two countries are now in a new phase of their ties. He highlighted that the remaining 13,000 U.S. soldiers will pull out by the end of the year.

"Our troops... are leaving Iraq and we are embarking on a new path together, a new phase in this relationship... between two sovereign nations," AFP quoted Biden speaking at the opening of a meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee in Baghdad.

He said the committee would be the centerpiece of U.S. and Iraqi efforts to build their relationship, notably in security issues such as training, intelligence and counter-terrorism.

"We kept our promise to withdraw from Iraq's cities in 2009. We kept our promise to end our combat mission in the summer of 2010," said the U.S. vice president. "And now, we are keeping our promise we made back in 2008 to remove our troops from Iraq by the end of this year, and they will be removed. Drawing down our forces is not only in the best interest of Iraq, but it's in the best interest of the United States of America as well, and the best interest of the relationship."

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Publication:The Kurdish Globe (Erbil, Iraq)
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Dec 3, 2011
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