Iran leader says US troop exit 'golden' for Iraq

TEHRAN - Iran's supreme leader on Sunday hailed the coming withdrawal of US troops from neighboring Iraq as a "golden" victory.
US President Barack Obama plans to withdraw his 40,000 troops from Iraq by the end of the year after negotiations on keeping some forces there failed, a move some US politicians say could give Tehran more room to assert its influence.
"The uniform stance of all tribes and religions in Iraq over America's pressure to get legal immunity for its occupying servicemen, and ultimately the coercion of America to exit Iraq, constitute a golden page in that country's history," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said after a meeting with Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani, the ISNA news agency reported.
The troops are leaving more than eight years after a US-led invasion toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 2003. Tehran welcomed the fall of Saddam, a secular Sunni Muslim who took majority Shi'ite Iraq into a bloody 1980-88 war with Iran, but has always criticized US military intervention.