Highlights From President Obama's Speech On Iraq

NPR's Robert Siegel has these highlights from the president's speech on the changing mission in Iraq.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

This evening, speaking from the Oval Office, President Barack Obama announced the formal end of America's combat mission in Iraq.

President BARACK OBAMA: Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibilities. Now, it's time to turn the page.

SIEGEL: Seven and a half years after the war began, President Obama said the U.S. military's role would now be to advise and assist Iraqi forces. He made clear this change does not mean an end to the violence, but that the success of the Iraqi state is now firmly in the hands of the Iraqi people.

President Obama also used the speech to talk about Afghanistan. He said the drawdown of troops in Iraq freed up needed resources for that war. And as in Iraq, he said, the U.S. aim in Afghanistan is to scale back the mission.

Pres. OBAMA: And next August, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground, and our support for Afghanistan will endure. But make no mistake: This transition will begin, because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people's.

SIEGEL: President Obama also tried to connect the war in Iraq with troubles here at home, saying war spending had shortchanged investments in our own people.

Pres. OBAMA: Our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as president.

SIEGEL: President Obama speaking this evening from the Oval Office.

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