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Sitting side by side, US President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki have showcased the end of the American war in Iraq.

Obama plans to pull all US troops out of the country by December 31, a move which could boost his re-election campaign. But others fear the departure could lead to a power vacuum, leaving Iraq vulnerable to neighbouring Iran.

Obama said: “After nearly nine years, our war in Iraq ends this month. Today despite continued attacks by those who seek to derail Iraq’s progress, violence remains at record lows.”

Almost 4,500 troops have died since President George W. Bush ordered the invasion in 2003.

Analysts predict the White House will promote the closure of the Iraq war and the removal of US troops from Afghanistan in next year’s elections.

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