Obama Praises US Mission in Iraq, Thanks Troops

December 20, 2011

President Barack Obama says the U.S. mission in Iraq is an "extraordinary achievement" that sets an example for how Americans should work together to solve the country's domestic issues.

During his weekly address Saturday, Mr. Obama expressed gratitude to the 1.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq since 2003, and to the families of the 4,500 members of the military who died there.

U.S. troops are completing their handover of security responsibilities to Iraqi forces ahead of a December 31 deadline for all U.S. troops' withdrawal.

The president also strongly urged Congress to set aside partisan differences and resolve budgetary issues so the nation could meet its responsibilities to military veterans. His remarks were broadcast before the U.S. Congress finalized funding measures that will allow all U.S. government operations to continue.

On Saturday, the Senate approved a roughly $1-trillion spending bill to fund federal government operations through September 2012. The measure cleared the House of Representatives on Friday.

Separately, Vice President Joe Biden spoke by phone Saturday with Iraq's Kurdish regional president, Masoud Barzani, and Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi about the end of U.S. direct involvement in the Iraq war.

The White House said Biden reiterated U.S. support for an inclusive coalition government in Iraq.

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