US, Iraq Affirm Partnership

Vice President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki delivered a joint statement on Wednesday reaffirming the two nations’ desire to have an enduring partnership after US troops complete their withdrawal from Iraq later this month. “Few nations have gone through what you have gone through, and few nations in recent history have made the progress you’ve made,” said Biden to his Iraqi hosts during his opening remarks at the meeting of the US-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee in Baghdad. Biden continued, “But, now, Iraq is poised to join the community of nations who are great contributors to the world.” Al Maliki said Iraq is ready to “start a new phase of friendship” with the United States. The two leaders pledged to create a separate committee for coordinating security and defense cooperation. Al Maliki is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., in mid-month to continue discussions. (AFPS report by Cheryl Pellerin) (See also Biden’s concluding remarks.)