Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday the United States will continue to have a presence in the Middle East despite plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of this year.
Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Clinton said the U.S. military will not have bases in Iraq but that America will have an ongoing relationship with the country.
“And as you know, we have a lot of presence in that region. So, no, we’re not going to have bases in Iraq. But we have bases elsewhere, we have security relations from Jordan to Colombia,” Clinton said.
“So we’re going to be present in Iraq, supporting the Iraqis and continually discussing with them what their needs are. And no one should miscalculate our commitment to Iraq, most particularly Iran,” Clinton said.
Earlier on the show, Clinton said the United States was open to negotiations to keep troops in Iraq into 2012 despite a campaign promise by President Obama to end the war in Iraq.
“Remember that it was President Bush who set the timetable in motion by agreeing with the Iraqis that all troops would be out by the end of this year. And, of course, President Obama promised the American people that the troops would be out by the end of this year. But we’re always open to discussing with partner countries what their needs are,” Clinton said.
Republican lawmakers have criticized the decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on the same show that it was “a serious mistake.”
“Yes, I’m here in the region and yes, it is viewed in the region as a victory for the Iranians and I don’t think there’s any doubt that it is,” McCain said. “I think it’s a serious mistake. I believe we could have negotiated an agreement.”