Obama vows to exit Iraq and rebuild US ‘moral stature’

Obama vows to exit Iraq and rebuild US ‘moral stature’

Washington: US President-elect Barack Obama vowed to pull troops out of Iraq, crush Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and shut down the Guantanamo Bay camp as part of a dramatic foreign policy break with George W Bush.

Repairing the stricken US economy will be priority number one, even at the cost of still-bigger budget deficits, Obama said in his first major post-election interview broadcast on CBS program “60 Minutes" on Sunday.

Following his election triumph of 4 November, Obama said at least one Republican would be in his cabinet and confirmed that he had met former Democratic primary rival Hillary Clinton last week.

But the President-elect refused to comment on speculation linking the former first lady to the job of secretary of state.

The man who will be the first black US president is accelerating his transition to inauguration day, resigning his Senate seat on Sunday and appointing three more top aides to serve in his White House once he succeeds Bush.

As soon as that happens on 20 January, Obama said, “I will call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, my national security apparatus, and we will start executing a plan that draws down our troops" from Iraq.

“Particularly in light of the problems that we’re having in Afghanistan, which has continued to worsen. We’ve got to shore up those efforts," Obama said in the interview, which was taped Friday.

On the campaign trail, Obama vowed to pull one or two combat brigades out of Iraq every month until after 16 months, only a residual security force of unspecified size remains.