VINEYARD HAVEN, Massachusetts (AFP) – President Barack Obama’s August 31 address marking the end of US combat operations in Iraq will be delivered from the Oval Office, a senior official said Wednesday.
The official said the speech in the Oval office, the most solemn setting for a presidential address, was to take place Tuesday at 8:00 pm (0000 GMT).
Obama has used the august setting just once so far during his presidency, on June 15, during a nationally-broadcast speech on the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.
Obama’s Iraq speech was to mark the exit of combat troops, a key milestone after more than 4,400 American troops killed and many billions of dollars spent ousting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 and quelling the ensuing sectarian and Al-Qaeda violence that ripped the country apart.
There are currently 52,000 American soldiers in Iraq and the army is close to completing a major withdrawal of troops by the end of August — when numbers will fall to 50,000 — as it declares an end to its combat mission here.
US troop levels are now less than a third of the peak figure of around 170,000 during the US military “surge” of 2007, when Iraq was in the midst of a brutal Shiite-Sunni sectarian war that cost tens of thousands of Iraqi lives.