Formally declaring that combat mission in Iraq is over US President Barack Obama has said that this milestone should serve as a message to the world that it intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in the 21st century.
"This milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that our future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment. It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends
to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century," Obama said in his address to the nation.
In his live televised speech from his Oval office, Obama said tonight he is announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended.
"Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office," he said.
"Last February, I announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq, while redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq's Security Forces and support its government and people. That is what we have done," he said.
The US has removed nearly 100,000 US troops from Iraq. It has closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis and has moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq, he asserted.
"Ending this war is not only in Iraq's interest – it is in our own. The United States has paid a huge price to put
the future of Iraq in the hands of its people," Obama said.
"We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time
of tight budgets at home.
"We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people – a belief that out of the ashes of war, a
new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilisation," the President said.
Terming it as "remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq" he said, we have met our responsibility.
"Now, it is time to turn the page."
The President said now the most urgent task is to restore the US economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work.
"To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the
skills that they need to compete in a global economy," he said.
"We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs," Obama said.
Acknowledging that this will be difficult, Obama said: "But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President."