Obama made his remarks before leaving Turkey for Baghdad, where he headed to Camp Victory to meet with Gen. Ray Odierno, the top military official in Iraq, and talk with US troops, 10 of whom will be awarded Medals of Valor by the president. A helicopter trip to the Green Zone was canceled due to poor weather; the president will instead speak by phone with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani.
Shortly before leaving, he referenced his opposition to the Iraq war, but reminded his audience that it would be unwise to act hastily in changing course. (For a story on Obama's troop drawdown plans for Iraq, click here.) "Moving the ship of state takes time," he said. "Now that we're there," the US troop withdrawal has to be done "in a careful enough way that we don't see a collapse into violence."
One student asked about America's policy regarding the possibility of an independent Kurdish state being established in Northern Iraq. Ankara worries that such a move would set a dangerous precedent for its own Kurdish population.
"We are very clear about the territorial integrity of Turkey," the president answered. "We would be opposed to anything that would start to cut off parts of Turkey."