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Clinton Says US Commitment to Iraq to Continue

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles at a town hall discussion in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Oct 22, 2011.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq will not end the U.S. commitment to the country.

She commented Saturday, a day after President Barack Obama announced that U.S. forces would be out of the country by the end of the year.

Clinton said the pull-out marks a new phase of Washington's relations with Baghdad. She said the U.S. would continue to have a "robust" and "continuing" presence in the region.

Clinton commented from Takijistan, a stop of her tour of Central Asia.

Mr. Obama said Friday that U.S. troops in Iraq would "definitely be home for the holidays." He said he and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were in agreement on that decision.

About 39,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, down from a high of about 165,000 in 2008.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said later Friday that the United States will negotiate with the Iraqi government after the end of 2011 about a possible American role to train Iraqi forces.

About 150 U.S. troops will stay behind after the end of the year in Iraq, where some will be part of the U.S. Embassy's security force.

Before Friday's announcement, the possibility had remained that U.S. troops would extend their presence in the nation past the December 31 deadline set in 2008. Obama and Maliki had been negotiating that issue.

The war, begun in March 2003, is one of the longest military conflicts in U.S. history. More than 4,400 U.S. troops have died in the conflict.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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