Obama: Not Having A Residual Force in Iraq "Wasn't A Decision Made By Me"

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JIM ACOSTA, CNN: Just real quickly, do you wish you had left a residual force in Iraq? Any regrets about that decision in 2011?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Keep in mind, that wasn't a decision made by me. That was a decision made by the Iraqi government. We offered a modest residual force to help continue to train and advise Iraqi security forces. We had a core requirement which we require in any situation where we have U.S. troops overseas, and that is that they are provided immunity, since they are being invited by the sovereign government there so that if, for example, they end up acting in self-defense, if they are attacked and find themselves in a tough situation, that they're not somehow called before a foreign court.

That's a core requirement that we have for U.S. troop presence anywhere. The Iraqi government and Prime Minister Maliki declined to provide us that immunity. And so I think it is important, though, to recognize that despite that decision, that we have continued to provide them with very intensive advice and support and have continued throughout this process over the last five years to not only offer them our assistance militarily, but we've also continued to urge the kinds of political compromises that we think are ultimately necessary in order for them to have a functioning multi-sectarian democracy inside the country.

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