US Vice President Joe Biden has said that the Obama Administration is committed to end its combat mission in Iraq by August this year and remove all of its troops from the country as scheduled by the end of 2011.
"We remain committed to end our combat mission in Iraq this summer, by the end of August 2010, and in accordance with the US-Iraqi security agreement that was signed a couple of years ago to remove all US forces from Iraq by the end of 2011," Biden told reporters in his remarks at the White House.
"As we complete this security transition, we will continue to work to build a lasting partnership with Iraqi people and their government based on the many shared interests we have that go beyond the military cooperation we've had of late, including the economy, education, cultural exchanges, and the development of a strong economy for Iraq," he said.
Earlier, Biden yesterday commended Iraqi forces in taking the lead in the killing of top two al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq.
"Early in the morning October 18th (sic April 18th), Iraqi security forces with the support of US forces killed the two most senior leaders of al-Qaeda Iraq during a series of joint-security operations near Tikrit, Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Umar al-Baghdadi," he said, adding the former leaders of AQI were the ones behind the terrorist attacks against Iraqis and Americans in the recent past.
Noting that their deaths are potentially devastating blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), Biden said but equally important, is this action demonstrates the improved security strength and capacity of Iraqi security forces.
The Iraqis led this operation, and it was based on intelligence the Iraqi security forces themselves developed following their capture of a senior AQI leader last month, he said.
"In short, the Iraqis have taken the lead in securing Iraq and its citizens by taking out both of these individuals. This counter-terrorism operation is the culmination of a lot of cooperation and very hard work by Iraqi and US forces to degrade AQI over the past several months and years."
It was now necessary for Iraqi political leaders to take the next and important necessary step to form an inclusive and representative government that meets the people's needs and aspirations, Biden added.