U.S. President Barack Obama has tied the future of Iraq to that of the broader Middle East, which he says will include Washington's "principled and sustained engagement" with Iran and Syria.
Mr. Obama said the U.S. can no longer deal with regional challenges in isolation. He argued Friday during a speech to Marines in North Carolina that Washington must take a "smarter, more sustainable and comprehensive approach."
While reaching out to Tehran, Mr. Obama added that the U.S. is developing a strategy to use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. The Iranian government says its nuclear program has no military component.
Mr. Obama also said the U.S. will refocus on al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan and is actively seeking a lasting peace between Israel and the Arab world.
As proof of his commitment. he pointed to the appointment of George Mitchell, Dennis Ross and Richard Holbrooke as special envoys to the region.
He also announced he intends to send veteran diplomat Christopher Hill to Baghdad as U.S. ambassador.
The U.S. president said that everyone - both friends and foes - must know that the end of the Iraq war will bring a new era of American leadership and engagement in the Middle East.