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White House: U.S. On Schedule To End Iraq Combat Role


U.S. soldiers secure an area during a distribution of relief goods in Karbala, Iraq on August 11.

U.S. soldiers secure an area during a distribution of relief goods in Karbala, Iraq on August 11.

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States can finish its combat role in Iraq safely at the end of this month and meet a deadline for removing all U.S. troops from the country by the end of 2011.

On August 11, Obama met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Adviser James Jones and, by videoconference, the U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said after the meeting that Obama was also informed about the efforts by Iraq to form a new government five months after national elections.

"The president was satisfied with the progress that we continue to see on the security side," Gibbs said. "[He] got an update and continue[s] to pursue progress on a formation of a government -- understanding the last one took six months, we understood this was not going to be a quick process. But we are on target by the end of the month to end our combat mission, turn over bases that Americans have been on to the Iraqis, and transition our role there."

Gibbs also said Odierno told Obama the security situation has continued to improve, and Iraqi forces are fully prepared to take over.

On August 11, Iraqi army chief of staff General Babaker Zebari said the Iraqi army will need U.S. support for another decade before being able to manage the country's security independently. Zebari said "the army will be fully ready in 2020."

compiled from agency reports
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