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Obama: Iraq Election Law an "Important Milestone"


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U.S. President Barack Obama says the approval of a long-delayed election law by the Iraqi parliament is an important milestone. Mr. Obama says it helps clear the way for a planned withdrawal of American combat troops.

Shortly after the Iraqi parliament approved the new election law, President Barack Obama went before reporters at the White House. "This is an important milestone as the Iraqi people continue to take responsibility for their future," he said.

Mr. Obama says Iraqi lawmakers have demonstrated their commitment to their country. He says that sends an important signal to the world at a time when the Iraqi government is being tested at home. "Iraq has known many challenges. And in the past several weeks we have seen that there are still those who would kill innocent men, women and children to deny the Iraqi people the future they deserve. Today's step forward is another reminder that these enemies of the Iraqi people will fail," he said.

The president acknowledges there will be more difficult times ahead. But he says the action taken by the Iraqi parliament is a significant breakthrough. "This agreement advances the political progress that can bring lasting peace and unity to Iraq and allow for the orderly and responsible transition of American combat troops out of Iraq by next September," he said.

The new election law sets the stage for national elections in January.

Passage of the law was delayed by an ongoing dispute about how to conduct balloting in the city of Kirkuk. Iraqi Kurds claim Kirkuk, which sits on significant oil reserves, but the city's Arab and Turkmen residents say it must remain under the control of the central government.

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