President Barack Obama and Iraq's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki met in Washington Wednesday and agreed that the U.S. is on schedule to remove all troops from the Iraq in a little more than a year.
It was al-Maliki's first visit to the White House since Obama took office and just a month after the first U.S. combat troops withdrew from providing security for major Iraqi cities. Both leaders acknowledged the complete transition from Iraq will not be easy.
"We'll move forward with our strategy to responsibly remove all American combat brigades from Iraq by the end of next August and to fulfill our commitment to remove all American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011," Obama said.
All U.S. combat troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by August 2010, allowing the rest of the U.S. Military forces until the end of next year to leave the Iraqi republic.
Al-Maliki said he agreed with Obama's goal.
"Iraq has suffered a great deal from being marginalized, from the policies of sectarianism, and from wars," he said. "We will work very hard in order not to allow any sectarian behavior an opportunity to flourish."
But Obama said there will be tough days ahead, because violence in Iraq has not ended.
"There will be attacks on Iraqi security forces and the American troops supporting them," he added. "There are still those in Iraq who would murder innocent men, women and children. There are still those who want to foment sectarian conflict. But make no mistake, those efforts will fail."
The two leaders also met to discuss the United States monetary investment in Iraq and political reconciliation among Iraq's ethnic groups.