On July 13, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. After their meeting, Secretary Clinton said,
"I'm delighted to be welcoming back to the State Department a colleague and a friend, someone who has served his country with great distinction. And I am very pleased to have this opportunity with Foreign Minister Zebari here to reaffirm the importance and strength of the long-term strategic relationship between the United States and Iraq."
Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Zebari discussed the Diplomatic Joint Coordinating Committee of the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement. Foreign Minister Zebari co-hosts the committee with Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman. Together, they are working on a range of common concerns, including Iraq's removal from UN Chapter 7 sanctions.
Secretary Clinton said, "We also discussed the critical need for Iraq's political leaders to continue the hard work necessary to form a proportionate and inclusive government that represents the voices of Iraq's diverse communities and can deliver on the promise of democracy. More is needed from everyone involved. The United States expresses no preference for the outcome in the government formation, but we share a sense of urgency. The people of Iraq deserve to have a government that is ready to meet their needs, and we hope that that occurs soon."
The Secretary continued, "We are committed to this relationship, and after August 31st, 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq to train, equip, and advise Iraqi security forces, conduct joint counterterrorism missions, and protect ongoing U.S. and civilian military activities.
"We are working every day to create a very strong foundation for a long-lasting relationship between the United States and Iraq, and the reduction in troops in no way reflects a decrease in American engagement with Iraq or our commitment to the Iraqi people. Guided by the Strategic Framework Agreement, the United States will continue to be an active partner and supporter as Iraqis strengthen their democracy, improve their security, and reintegrate fully into the regional and global community and economy.
"We believe a sustained U.S. role will be crucial to lasting peace and security in Iraq. But ultimately, we recognize the long-term success of the Iraqi nation depends upon the leaders and people of Iraq. It is their determination and hard work that will make the difference. The strong turnout in the March 7th election underscored their resolve, but we know some delays have occurred on the road to forming a government, but we're betting on the Iraqis. We think the Iraqi people are a tough, resilient, determined people who are more than up to the task. And the United States will stand with the Iraqi people for the long term."
Read the full transcript of their remarks here.