President Barack Obama is declaring that U.S. troops are leaving Iraq this month "with honor and with their heads held high."

Obama calls this a "historic moment" as the war in Iraq is ending after nearly nine years.

Obama spoke at a news conference Monday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. All U.S. troops are scheduled to withdraw from Iraq by Dec. 31.

The president says the U.S. leaves behind a sovereign and self-reliant Iraq. He also says America's "strong presence in the Middle East" will endure as the U.S. exists Iraq and warned that other nations should not interfere with Iraq's sovereignty.

While Obama did not specifically mention any nation, U.S. officials have been closely watching Iran's interactions with its neighbor.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)