Obama hails Iraqi elections as key step forward

WASHINGTON Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:16pm GMT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday hailed Iraq's peaceful provincial elections as an important step forward in Iraqis taking responsibility for their own future.

"I congratulate the people of Iraq on holding significant provincial elections today," Obama said in a statement.

Obama, who won the presidency on the back of his promise to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq, plans to decide soon on an approach that will likely lead to a drawdown of U.S. forces there, the White House said on Friday.

Citing the Iraqi government's management of the elections and security forces' role in protecting polling places, Obama said, "This important step forward should continue the process of Iraqis taking responsibility for their future."