President-elect Barack Obama Wednesday congratulated Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on the passage of an agreement calling for U.S. forces to start leaving Iraqi towns and cities in June 2009 and from the rest of the country by the end of 2011.
"He told the Prime Minister that he looks forward to working together, that he is committed to a responsible redeployment of American troops from Iraq and to respecting Iraq’s sovereignty, and that he looks forward to visiting Iraq as president," Obama’s chief national security spokesperson Brooke Anderson told ABC News.
The security pact, passed Nov. 27, signals the first U.S.-Iraqi agreement since the invasion to outline concrete terms for American withdrawal from the country.
"There is one president at a time and no date has been set for this trip, but President-elect Obama looks forward to seeing our men and women in uniform serving in Iraq," Anderson added.
Maliki’s office also released a statement on Wednesday’s call, noting that the Prime Minister hopes the new agreement leads to "a new phase" of bilateral relations.
"[The] Prime Minister said that he is keen to develop bilateral relations in accordance with the security agreement in a way that serves the interests of the two countries, wishing that the bilateral relations would enter a new phase after approving the security agreement," said the statement. "Mr. Obama praised [the] Prime Minister’s efforts to improve the security and the level of living for Iraqis and expressed his desire to visit Iraq after his swearing in as a president."
– Jake Tapper and Matt Jaffe