Obama: Time to turn the page in Iraq

01:24, Sep 02 2010
US soldiers in Iraq
Two US soldiers from the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment carry away a wounded Iraqi soldier on a stretcher at the site where an explosive device went of inside a house during security operations in Diyala province August 8, 2008.
US soldiers in Iraq
A US soldier and an armed local villager joke in a village near Baquba in Diyala province, October 25, 2008.
US soldiers in Iraq
An Iraqi man, standing below pictures of Shi'ite saints, talks to US soldiers searching his home for weapons and explosive devices in Baghdad's Sadr City, 2008.
US soldiers in Iraq
US Soldiers from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade move out towards a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to return to base after completing a search of a small village north of Taji, November 12, 2009.
US soldiers in Iraq
US soldiers prepare to pull out from Iraq to Kuwait, at Tallil Air Base, August 15, 2010.
US soldiers in Iraq
US soldiers patrol at the site of a bomb attack in Kut, August 25, 2010.
US soldiers in Iraq
A US soldier walks past a burned bus at the site of a bomb attack which killed more than 100 people in northern Baghdad, December 8, 2009.
US soldiers in Iraq
A US soldier runs at the site where an explosive device went of inside a house during security operations in Diyala province August 8, 2008.
US soldiers in Iraq
US soldiers pray in a circle before leaving Camp Victory for their patrol mission on the streets of Baghdad July 7, 2007.
US soldiers in Iraq
US Soldiers stop and search an Iraqi civilian during a security operation in the northern city of Tal Afar, December 5, 2004.
US soldiers in Iraq
A US soldier is seen through a night vision device as he takes position during a search mission in the Sunni neighbourhood of Arab Jabour in south Baghdad October 18, 2007.
US soldiers in Iraq
An Iraqi child sits as US soldiers walk past her during patrolling in Baghdad, July 8, 2007.
US soldiers in Iraq - Lynndie England
Lynndie England became a hate-figure after this picture of her abusing a naked prisoner at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was published in The Washington Post.
US soldiers in Iraq
US soldier Staff Sergent Russell Massey throws an incendiary grenade during a patrol in the neighbourhood of Muhalla 834 in Baghdad November 13, 2007.
US soldiers in Iraq
A US soldier helps a wounded Iraqi soldier in Diyala province August 8, 2008.
US Presiden Obama
US President Barack Obama thanks US Army troops for their service at Fort Bliss, Texas, August 31, 2010, ahead of his address from the Oval Office later in the day about combat troop withdrawals in Iraq.
Saddam Hussein captured
Saddam Hussein is filmed after his capture in this footage released December 14, 2003.
US soldiers in Iraq
A statue of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein falls in central Baghdad in April 9, 2003.
George Bush
US President George Bush makes his controversial "mission accomplished speech" aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003.
US soldiers in Iraq
A Chinook CH-47D helicopter prepares to land in the western desert area of Iraq during the last hours of Operation Iron Triangle on May 11, 2006.

President Barack Obama declared an end to the seven-year US combat mission in Iraq on Tuesday and told war-weary Americans his central responsibility now is to restore the sagging US economy.

"Now, it is time to turn the page," Obama said in an Oval Office address, speaking from the same desk former President George W. Bush had used to declare the 2003 start of the war.

Obama, who inherited the war from Bush and is fighting another in Afghanistan, said he had fulfilled a 2008 campaign promise to end U.S. combat operations in Iraq and that "the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."

COMBAT OVER: Obama thanked troops in Texas before delivering an evening address to the nation.
COMBAT OVER: Obama thanked troops in Texas before delivering an evening address to the nation.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told Iraqis their country "today is sovereign and independent" but many are apprehensive as U.S. military might is scaled down, especially in the midst of continuing violence and a stalemate in efforts to form a new government six months after an inconclusive election.

Almost a trillion dollars have been spent and more than 4,400 U.S. soldiers and at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the 2003 invasion. A recent CBS News poll found 72 percent of Americans now believe the war was not worth the loss of American lives.

The impasse in Iraq has raised tensions as politicians squabble over power and insurgents carry out attacks aimed at undermining faith in domestic security forces.

"Tonight, I encourage Iraq's leaders to move forward with a sense of urgency to form an inclusive government that is just, representative, and accountable to the Iraqi people," Obama said.

The president, who opposed the war from the start, said he spoke to Bush earlier in the day by phone. He stopped short of praising Bush, as Republicans have demanded, for launching a 2007 troop surge that helped turn the tide in the war.

"It's well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush's support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security," Obama said.

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Reuters