Obama: 'Our War in Iraq Ends This Month'
President promises US will still have 'strong presence'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2011 12:47 PM CST
President Barack Obama meets with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, Dec. 12, 2011.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – As the last 6,000 American troops prepare to leave Iraq by Dec. 31, President Obama today heralded the end of the divisive war—but issued a warning to the country's neighbors: The US will continue to have a "strong presence in the Middle East." He added, in a speech made after meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki this morning, that "the United States will never waiver in the defense of our allies, our partners, and our interests."

Al-Maliki was by his side as Obama warned other nations not to interfere with Iraq's sovereignty. He didn't mention any names, but he was likely referring especially to Iran, the AP notes.