US president-elect Barack Obama reiterated on Monday that all American combat troops would be withdrawn from Iraq in 16 months, even while residual forces could remain longer.
"At the same time, I will listen to my commanders on the ground," Obama maintained at a press conference here at which he introduced his national security team. Hillary Clinton, who has been named the new Secretary of State, stood to Obama's left.
Obama said the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) agreed to between the US and Iraq had made the 16-month timeline possible.
"Our number one priority is to ensure our troops remain safe in the transition period," Obama pointed out.
He also announced the Defence Secretary Robert Gates would continue in the job in the new administration that takes office Jan 20.