Obama To Meet With Iraq’s Maliki Ahead of Final U.S. Troop Withdrawal Set by 2008 Agreement

By Penny Starr | November 28, 2011 | 5:55 PM EST

President Barack Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, where he declared an end to the Iraq war,  announcing that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from the country by year's end. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama plans to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Dec. 12 at the White House, just two weeks ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.

Although the troop withdrawal timetable was outlined in the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement signed by then-President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama is now suggesting that the troop withdrawal is the result of the strategy he proposed during his presidential campaign.

Last month, when Obama announced the end of the Iraq war, he said: “As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world.

“After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011,” Obama added in his Oct. 21 remarks.

In fact, the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) negotiated by the Bush administration set Dec. 31, 2011 as the deadline for removing “all U.S. forces” from Iraq. (It also set June 2009 as the date for withdrawing all U.S. combat troops from Iraqi cities.) The SOFA was approved by the Iraqi cabinet on Nov. 16, 2008, and President Bush signed it on Dec. 14, 2008, shortly before leaving office.

In 2008 during his presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama wrote a commentary for the New York Times outlining his plan to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the summer of 2010 -- not the end of 2011.

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“As I’ve said many times, we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in,” Obama wrote. “We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began,” Obama said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, left, and President Barack Obama. (AP Photo)

On July 15, 2008 candidate Obama gave a speech on the Iraq war where he laid out the same 16-month, 2010 timeline.

“To achieve that success, I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war,” Obama said.

“We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months,” Obama said. “That would be the summer of 2010 - one year after Iraqi Security Forces will be prepared to stand up; two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began.”

“It’s time to end this war,” Obama said at the conclusion of his commentary.

In announcing al-Maliki’s upcoming visit, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the meeting would be about the “partnership” between the two countries.

"The two leaders will hold talks on deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq," Carney said.