Iraq's prime minister says the handover of the heavily fortified Green Zone and the presidential palace is the most visible sign his country has regained its sovereignty.
Nouri al-Maliki spoke Thursday during a ceremony marking the takeover by Iraqi authority of Saddam Hussein's large palace.
The takeover is part of a security deal with the United States. After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion the palace had served as the U.S. Embassy and headquarters of the U.S military in Iraq.
Al-Maliki says he will propose Jan. 1 as a national holiday to commemorate what he described as "Sovereignty Day" -- the day Iraq took the lead in security from U.S. forces of its airspace and a wide swath of Baghdad's Green Zone.