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Iraq war will end on target: Obama

President Barack Obama has declared that the Iraq war is nearing an end "on schedule".

Mr Obama cited progress toward meeting his deadline of withdrawing all US combat troops from Iraq by the end of this month.

A transitional force of 50,000 troops will remain to train Iraqi security forces, conduct counter-terrorism operations and provide security for US civilian efforts. Under an agreement negotiated in 2008 with the Iraqis, all American troops are to be gone from Iraq by the end of next year.

"The hard truth is we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq," Mr Obama said.

"But make no mistake, our commitment in Iraq is changing - from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats."

The main message of Mr Obama's speech to disabled war veterans was the move toward fulfilment of his campaign promise to end the Iraq war, a position that perhaps most defined his 2008 candidacy and was key to his base of support in the liberal wing of his Democratic Party.

With pivotal November congressional elections approaching, the White House wants to highlight the progress as a success story.

The speech was only the first in a series planned for this month, with others to be headlined by the president as well as vice president Joe Biden and other administration officials.

But the rhetoric comes amid deep concerns about Iraq's stability.

The US has stepped up the pressure on Iraqi leaders to overcome a five-month political impasse that has prevented the formation of a new government following elections earlier this year.

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