US troops out of Iraq by August - Obama

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Washington - In his first State of the Union Address on Wednesday night US President Barack Obama said his country will have all of US combat troops out of Iraq by the end of August.

Obama said he promised to end the unpopular war as a presidential candidate in 2008, and that is what he is doing as president.

"We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August ... make no mistake, this war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home," he said speaking from Capitol Hill.

He also promised to support the Iraqi government as Iraqis hold crucial parliamentary elections in March. He said the administration will continue to partner with Iraqis to "promote regional peace and prosperity."

As the war in Iraq is winding down, Obama said the US is increasing troop level in Afghanistan and training of Afghan Security Forces so they can begin to take the lead in July 2011, so that US troops can begin to come home that time.

He acknowledged that "there will be difficult days ahead," and the US will help "reward good governance, reduce corruption" in Afghanistan.

He said an international meeting on Afghanistan will take place Thursday in London, during which allies and partners will come together to reaffirm their commitment.

The President also said he would continue financial reform to fight against excessive speculation that could send the US economy into a new crisis.

"I am not interested in punishing banks, I'm interested in protecting our economy," he said, while noting that a strong, healthy financial market makes it possible for businesses to access credit and create new jobs.

"It channels the savings of families into investments that raise incomes. But that can only happen if we guard against the same recklessness that nearly brought down our entire economy."

He also vowed he would veto any finance bill that does not contain "real reform."
"The House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes. And the lobbyists are already trying to kill it," he told lawmakers at the Capitol Hill.

"Well, we cannot let them win this fight. And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back."

Focusing on healthcare, Obama reiterated his commitment to healthcare overhaul efforts despite recent setbacks.

"The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market".

He promised he would not "walk away" from needy Americans although healthcare overhaul, one of his top domestic legislative priorities, is now caught in a deadlock.

Obama also admitted that he should be blamed for not explaining his healthcare plan more clearly to the American people given the complex nature of this issue.
"This is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became," he said.

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