Yesterday Secretary Clinton participated in a town hall meeting with representatives of Provincial Reconstruction Teams and Iraqi civil society in Baghdad.
At the beginning of the town hall meeting, Secretary Clinton said, "I am pleased to be here with all of you today and very excited about this opportunity to hear from you. I’m pleased that Ambassador Hill is now here in Baghdad ready to work to further and deepen our cooperation on a range of important issues.
I wanted to come today to repeat the commitment that President Obama and I and our government have to the people and nation of Iraq, and to assure you that as we make this transition, that the United States will stand with the people of Iraq and look for ways to create a close and important relationship for the future.
So what I would like to do is to really turn this over to the audience. I know we have Iraqis from many different parts of the country with many different experiences. We have members of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. ...[A]s we move together into the future, we will do a better job if we talk to one another and if we listen to each other and then decide how we can solve problems together."
An activist in media and human rights proposed the first question during the town hall meeting. He asked, "Following the situation in United State, we know that the new Administration in – of U.S.A. now engaged in the internal issues, especially economy. And it’s – looks like to us that the situation of Iraq is not so important or it’s not in the same level of importance for the new Administration. I would like to ask whether this policy is a kind of reprieve or a kind of making another policy different for Iraq?"
Secretary Clinton responded, "Let me assure you and repeat what President Obama said. We are committed to Iraq. We want to see a stable, sovereign, self-reliant Iraq. But we know we’re coming into office when there is a transition underway. The prior administration agreed to withdraw our troops and we support that. We want to do it in a responsible and careful way. And we also want to expand our work with the people and Government of Iraq in other areas of concern to help the government, to help the rule of law, to help the civil society. And so we are very committed, but the nature of our commitment may look somewhat different because we’re going to be withdrawing our combat troops over the next few years."
Read the Secretary's full conversation with Provincial Reconstruction Team leaders and Iraqi civil society representatives.