BAGHDAD — U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has arrived in Baghdad to formally shut down the nearly nine-year war in Iraq.
He says was worth the cost in blood and dollars, as it set Iraq on a path to democracy.
Panetta arrived Thursday as the leader of America's war in Iraq, but will leave as one of many top U.S. and global officials who hope to work with the struggling nation as it seeks its new place in the Middle East and the world.
He and other U.S. leaders will participate in a symbolic ceremony, during which the flag of U.S. Forces-Iraq will officially be retired.
The U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003. The final few thousand troops will be out of the country by year's end.
- See pictures of soldiers returning home from Iraq.
- U.S. News Debate Club: Was The Iraq War Worth It?
- See a collection of political cartoons on the turmoil in the Middle East.