Joe Biden: US, Iraq Ties Entering A New Phase

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Context
01-12-2011_Biden In IraqThe US Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday declared that the United States and Iraq are sovereign nations, embarking on a new path together. Biden was on a surprise visit to Iraq to attend an event to recognize the sacrifices of US and Iraqi troops in the struggle for freedom.

In a meeting of the US-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee, he said US troops “are leaving Iraq and we are embarking on a new path together, a new phase in this relationship… between two sovereign nations.”

The US has promised to withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of the year. The decision is marred with controversy, with some officials demanding American presence in the country to train and equip Iraqi soldiers. Others such as Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have warned that a continued US presence would not be welcomed.

While media focus is on the US withdrawal, Iraq will host the largest American embassy in the world, with a staff of 16,000 people, and a budget of $6.5 billion.