“We’ve asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” Obama while meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki.
It was an open confirmation by the Obama administration that the drone was in Iranian hands, which is, according to Tehran, was brought down as the plane was flying over the country’s territory.
“With respect to the drone inside of Iran, I’m not going to comment on intelligence matters that are classified,” Obama said.
However, Mr Obama hasn’t revealed any information considering the plane’s mission or why it failed to return to a base in Afghanistan.
Tehran reported that the sophisticated aircraft was brought down using electronic warfare, while Washington was insisting that it malfunctioned.
Earlier on Monday, Iranian state TV said that military experts had almost finished recovering data from the spy drone.
Iranian parliament’s national security committee member, Parviz Sorouri, said the information they extracted would be used to “file a lawsuit against the United States over the invasion” by the aircraft.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she thought that the drone would not be returned.
“We are very clearly making known our concerns. We submitted a formal request for the return of our lost equipment, as we would in any situation. Given Iran’s behaviour to date, we do not expect them to reply,” she said.
She also added that despite numerous “provocations” from Iran, the US would keep on pursuing a “diplomatic approach”.
General Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, said on Sunday that Iran was not going to return it back because it amounted to a violation of its air space and was a hostile act.
Although Obama asked for its return, this appeared to be just a formality and there is little sign that the situation can develop into a major international crisis comparable to the 1960 stand-off when Russia downed the U2 spy plane.
Maliki visited the White House intending to discuss once again the exit of US troops. The president had already announced the pullout of all combat troops from Iraq last year, then again in October and again yesterday. There will be another burst of publicity when the last trooper crosses the border from Iraq into Kuwait.
When Obama was still a candidate he promised to end the war in Iraq, even though the timetable for withdrawal had already been put into place in 2008 by George W Bush. However, Mr Obama can now highlight that he has kept his word in the 2012 re-election campaign..
White House press spokesman Jay Carney commented on Maliki’s visit: “This is a momentous visit because, as you know, the Iraq war – a war that we’ve been engaged in for eight and a half years – is over. And after eight and a half years of sacrifice, America’s war in Iraq is coming to an end.”
He continued: “Since President Obama took office, nearly 150,000 US troops have been removed from Iraq and hundreds of bases have been shut down. In the next two weeks the final US forces will cross the border. For the first time in over eight years no US troops will be preparing to deploy to Iraq. We will have no bases in Iraq. The war is over and the troops are coming home.”