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Remarks by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Vice President Joe Biden at a Bilateral Meeting

12:45 P.M. Local

     PRIME MINISTER AL-MALIKI:  (In progress as interpreted) And we are looking forward to the future Iraq which is going to be built on the outcome of this meeting.  We have to believe that in the (inaudible) to go forward and arrive at this day, it is the outcome of the joint commitment; and that we may have a long way to go.  We have to continue to communicate, hold meetings, to exchange ideas in order to put into practice the vision that we both have. 

We would like to thank you and your delegation for having taken the trouble to come all this way to press this case, and for the opportunity (inaudible) program that's going to be a very beneficial one.  During our forthcoming visit to Washington, D.C., hopefully we complete what we have started here Baghdad now.  Thank you very much. 

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, Mr. Prime Minister, we’re -- as I said, the President personally asked me to tell you how much he’s looking forward to your coming to Washington.  And I want to thank you and the Foreign Minister and others for recognizing the sacrifice the General’s troops have made to get to this place.  But to suggest the future of Iraq rests upon our relationship I think gives us too much credit.  We are absolutely committed to being your partner to the extent you want us to be. 

And as self-serving as it may sound, we believe we can be helpful.  But it’s the leadership of you and the civilian leadership in Iraq that's going to determine the future of Iraq.  It’s remarkable what you’ve accomplished so far.  I remember our first meeting yours and mine.  You wanted to talk -- 

PRIME MINISTER AL-MALIKI:  Which year was it? 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  It was -- I think 2008.  I think.  It may have been earlier actually. 



THE VICE PRESIDENT:  It was -- it was before.  It was way before.  Then I remember our first meeting when I was Vice President.  You leaned up in your chair and you said, the strategic framework agreement that's what we should focus on.  Remember?  (Laughter.)  And thank God we reached the place where we can now almost exclusively focus on the strategic framework agreement. 

PRIME MINISTER AL-MALIKI:  Actually, Mr. Vice President brought about by sheer coincidence it was a (inaudible) -- 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That's exactly right.  And that's why I say the ultimate success of Iraq is going to rest upon the vision of you and the civilian leadership.  We will stand with you for as long as you want us. 

                   END                     12:50 P.M. (Local)