Tuesday, June 17, 2008
From CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic:
(FLINT, Mich.) Barack Obama told Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on the telephone this morning that he would end the U.S. occupation in Iraq and promised to visit the country before the general election in November.
“I told him that I look forward to seeing him in Baghdad,” Obama said to reporters.
When asked when that meeting would take place, Obama said his campaign will make an announcement soon but that he is interested in visiting Iraq and Afghanistan before the election.
*Obama reiterated that he will not withdraw troops precipitously, but he called the U.S. occupation in Iraq “finite” and said that it will come to a “foreseeable end.” He added that the Iraq war is crippling the U.S. economy and that relief is dependent on withdrawing troops from Iraq.
Obama also called on the Iraqi government to “pick up the tab” for reconstruction efforts.
“As a consequence of a huge spike in oil prices, the Iraqi government's budget is twice as large as it anticipated, and so I think it’s important for the Iraqis to start picking up more of the tab both for reconstruction efforts as well as the need to continue to boost their military capacity,” Obama said.
At a campaign event in Flint later in the day, Obama continued to press for the Iraqis to pay for more of their own reconstruction.
"It’s time to stop spending billions of dollars a week on a blank check for an Iraqi government that won’t spend its own oil revenues," he said.
(*Editor's Note: This post was updated from its original version, which inaccurately indicated that Obama called for a "precipitous" troop withdrawal from Iraq.)