Dec. 12 - Obama discussed Iran, Syria and Iraq's role in the region with Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki as the deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal nears. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION STORY: President Barack Obama on Monday (December 12) said the U.S. government had requested the return of a spy drone downed over Iran but declined to discuss if its loss could compromise U.S. national security. "We have asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," Obama said during a joint news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki after the two met at the White House. The meeting comes just weeks before the last American troops are slated to leave the country. Obama announced in October that troops will be withdrawn by December 31 according to the terms of a 2008 bilateral security pact. Obama acknowledged differences between Washington and Baghdad on how to deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators but said Maliki was acting in Iraq's best interests. Fulfilling a pledge to Americans weary of the nearly nine year old war, Obama is pulling nearly all U.S. troops out of Iraq by Dec. 31, after a deal to keep thousands of U.S. trainers on the ground fell apart over the issue of immunity. This has fanned concern about a power vacuum in the country that could be exploited by neighboring Iran, which has sought to exert influence over Iraq's majority fellow Shi'ites since the United States toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.