VP Biden says Iraq ready to survive on its own

Associated Press
U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, left, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, hold a joint news conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011. Biden said Wednesday that his trip to Baghdad ahead of the U.S. military pullout will mark a new beginning between Iraq and the United States, but already protests in Iraq against his visit are demonstrating the difficulties the relationship will face. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)
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U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, left, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, hold a joint …

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday "we're not claiming victory" in Iraq, but he believes the emerging government in Baghdad is capable of defending itself.

Interviewed on NBC's "Today" show from Iraq, Biden was asked about the impact of the U.S. combat troop withdrawal, likely to be complete within weeks. He replied, "This is no rush."

Biden added that in the three years of the Obama administration, "We've done this in a way that nobody thought could be done."

The vice president said there is no validity now to "the idea that there is sufficient capacity to bring down this government, to fundamentally alter this democratic process that is under way."

"We're not claiming victory," he said. "What we're claiming here is we've done our job the administration said it would do. To end a war we did not start, to end it in a responsible way ... and to leave in place the prospect of a trained military, a trained security force under democratic institutions where the disparate parties for the first time are actually working together."

He acknowledged security concerns — dramatized by two separate attacks that officials say killed 17 people Thursday in a northeastern Iraqi province — but said that "violence is at an all-time low" since 2002.

Biden said in a meeting with Iraqi leaders Wednesday that Washington and Baghdad will continue to work closely together in many joint civilian endeavors.

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