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Biden addresses US troops in Baghdad

world Updated: Jan 15, 2011 08:58 IST

US Vice President Joe Biden said today that the US should make sure Iraq's stability and democracy are strong enough to make it "a country that was worthy of the sacrifices" the American military suffered during eight years of war.

Biden, speaking to some 400 soldiers in Baghdad, also said the US would continue to train and equip Iraqi forces beyond 2011. His remarks highlighted continuing uncertainty about whether all American troops will head home by the end of the year as required by a security agreement between the two nations.

"The Iraqi people for the first time, I suspect, I would argue, in their history are on the verge of literally creating a country that will be democratic, sustainable and, God willing, prosperous," Biden told the troops at the military's headquarters on the outskirts of Baghdad. "It could have a dramatic impact on this entire region, and God knows the Iraqi people deserve it."

The White House has promised to end the war responsibly. "By that we meant we were going to end this by bringing you all home within a time certain, but leaving behind a country that was worthy of all the sacrifices that so many of your brothers and sisters have made," Biden told the troops.

More than 4,400 US troops have died since the 2003 invasion and an estimated 32,000 have been wounded.