State Department Tangles With Reporters Over Iraq

Spokeswoman denies that Obama administration abandoned Iraq in fight against al Qaeda.
3:00 | 01/03/14

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Transcript for State Department Tangles With Reporters Over Iraq
You just addressing. The suggestion in an and one of -- earlier questions the United States abandon Iraq. Well I would I would fundamentally disagree with it just because we don't have troops on the ground doesn't mean we don't have a continuing close partnership with Iraqi Government. IDC now it's time for the assistance they give -- we talked a little bit about it over the Christmas holiday I think. Some of the additional military assistance we've given them so we don't define our relationship with a country based on boots on the ground and fact the opposite me. Very much have a closing continuing partnership and we'll keep working at them -- the strict -- Was it was it not the administration's preference. To keep. The number of troops on the ground and -- really not an -- -- I'm not asking -- to -- -- -- -- -- us thank you. I'm not going to go back into internal deliberations about whether we would we're going to or wanted to put a new -- -- something that happened. What two years a -- -- two and a half years ago now. I just don't think that's beneficial discussion to -- this podium. The president was very clear when he came into office that are bullets and the war in Iraq and bring our troops home. I just don't think it serves any purpose to re litigate those discussions from what 2011. In 2014. Not asking and we begin with the administration not interesting including the sofa with your government I'm just not gonna go -- and that. I don't know the answer is yes OK and ultimately what might just you and answered no but I would prefer that you could try to sidestep that -- -- -- I did. But different 2014 -- we got -- discussion or debate about what -- an honest question about what we've -- and I have won eight and 2011 is not relevant the -- to the discussion today Matt. It's it gently on relevant to the question idea which was the critics his question was. Critics suggest or say claim accuse the administration of abandoning -- and I -- Kerry but Democrats okay and I -- and you knew. Was the administration in arrested in concluding a sofa with the Iraqi Government or not back it back I don't. It's not -- I'm not gonna go back on that road what I said is that you don't define. If you're looking for -- you'd think that I'm trying to set a trap and -- mall I'm just trying to get a straight answer and its historical fat. That you were involved in negotiations. Absolutely nothing we weren't involved in them but you asking what we want and what we didn't want what a conference -- the focal point of the sofa was the same point -- -- -- Afghanistan -- -- -- -- -- I understand that but it was to keep Saddam -- -- residents. Keep some presence on the ground. Again they're very different -- in Iraq Gary particularly our but the suggestion if you deny that the US abandoned. Absolutely around I don't think I don't play one I what I minutes on the ground might wanna explain to people that the administration did try to conclude a sofa with the youngster -- -- -- Action to have today. It's the answer to the question. I don't think it's under the impression to have today I think I would define our engagement in Iraq not by boots on the ground. -- -- Alison hopefully. -- Well certainly we're doing -- we -- to help them build their capability. We've been very clear that we are partners with Iraq and they shared fight. But we also we're very clear about. The president wants when he came -- -- office about ending the war there about building a new relationship going forward. And focusing on on other security threats going forward so again. This isn't something we're gonna re litigate here -- in -- happen in 2011 what we're focused on now is how we continue building a relationship and building their capability. -- -- -- -- -- For the administration to end the war in Iraq. -- perhaps forget to leave behind some schools that -- aid them in defeating adds there's absolutely not again you don't define relationship with a country by. Boots on the ground that's just relates only to finally -- -- that with you about peace -- the finally -- like and we can't impose peace people I think that's give them tools to aid them which is exactly what we're doing but it's a tough fight at the heart challenge any issues are easy if they were easy it would have been dealt with years ago. So it's not like it we just flipped the switch. And did XY or defeat the terrorist threat Iraq would go -- that's just not pottery at our homework. So we're helping and other capability we're helping provide them with the tools that guidance the assistance. -- -- fight this fight but it's really. Today and -- -- in conjunction with -- helping them. Two push up the extremists to encourage moderate to learn the lessons we all learned from the years we were there when we did happen it's on the ground. And trying to the situation poured in a better way.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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