23 Jul 2009

Obama calls for new US ties with Iraq

8:43 am on 23 July 2009

United States President Barack Obama has sketched the outlines of a new US-Iraqi relationship, saying it was time to broaden the ties forged out of war.

"The United States and Iraq have known difficult times together. Now both of us agree that the bonds forged between Americans and Iraqis in war can pave the way for progress that can be forged in peace," Mr Obama said.

Standing beside Obama in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced plans for a foreign investor conference in October.

"All of this comes as a natural reaction to the stability and to the direction of the Iraqi national unity government to provide what is needed for rebuilding, reconstruction of a country that was destroyed by wars, by dictatorship," Mr Maliki said.

US forces invaded Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein and 130,000 troops remain to help secure the country and train Iraqi forces.

Some 4,300 U.S. soldiers have been killed during six years of insurgent and sectarian conflict. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died and millions displaced.

US troops withdrew from Iraqi towns and cities three weeks ago, paving the way for a full withdrawal by the end of 2011.