Secretary Clinton held a press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari yesterday in Baghdad. Secretary Clinton said:"It is encouraging to both see and hear about the progress that is being made in Iraq, and that came through to me not only in my official meetings with the foreign minister, the prime minister, and the president, but also with the special representative of the secretary general of the United Nations. The special representative briefed me about the work that the UN is doing, including the recently concluded report on disputed internal borders.
I especially appreciated the chance to meet with Iraqis, including a group of women who were both war widows and who were helping widows and their children. I also participated in an historic town hall meeting with Iraqi citizens representing a broad cross-section of Iraqi society. At every stop, I have emphasized President Obama’s message that our strategy working with you may be in a new phase, but we pledge our full and continuing commitment to Iraq and the Iraqi people.
We are committed to seeing an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant, and fully integrated into the region. We are working toward an orderly transition of responsibility from the American military to the Iraqi security forces, and we continue to help train and equip these forces so they will take the lead in safeguarding their country.
Like President Obama, I condemn these violent recent efforts to disrupt the progress that Iraq is making. My heart and America’s sympathy go out to the people who have died and the families who have suffered. This violence has only reinforced the Iraqi people’s determination to seek a better future for their country. Their response and the response of Iraqi’s leaders has been united and firm.
The end of the United States’ combat presence in Iraq by 2011 will mark the beginning of a new phase in our country’s relationship. As we draw down militarily, we will deepen our civilian cooperation in accordance with the strategic framework agreement. We will work on development and diplomatic initiatives and a regional agenda that includes border security and refugees.
The Iraqi people have withstood challenges of the most vicious and violent sort from those who would have torn their society apart, and Iraqis from everywhere have made tremendous sacrifices. The United States has also shared in those sacrifices. But we are proud of the progress that the Iraqi people have made. I said today that the Iraqi people are known for intelligence, hard work, and courage. And we will stand with you as you build a future worthy of all of the children in Iraq."
Read the transcript of the press conference.