BAGHDAD (Agencies) - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to assure Iraqis on Saturday that the Obama administration would not abandon their country even as it presses ahead with plans to withdraw American troops amid a recent surge in violence. Hillary said the drawdown would be handled in a responsible and careful way and would not affect efforts to improve Iraqs security forces, or complete reconstruction and development projects. But Iraqis, and particularly their security forces, need to overcome sectarian and other differences if they are to build a united, secure nation, she said. Let me assure you and repeat what President Obama said, we are committed to Iraq, we want to see a stable, sovereign, self-reliant Iraq, she told a nervous but receptive crowd at a town hall meeting at the US Embassy in the Iraqi capital. We are very committed, but the nature of our commitment may look somewhat different because we are going to be withdrawing our combat troops over the next couple of years, Hillary said. High-profile attacks this past week primarily targeted Shias. More than 150 people, many of them Iranian pilgrims, have died. Ahead of her arrival, the US Secretary of State said the attacks are a sign that extremists are afraid the Iraqi government is succeeding. I think that these suicide bombings ... are unfortunately, in a tragic way, a signal that the rejectionists fear that Iraq is going in the right direction, she told reporters aboard her plane. Frankly, some people are afraid, said one participant in the town hall who said many questioned the ability, competence and neutrality of Iraqs security forces, given the US withdrawal plan. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari described the talks held with Hillary as useful and said Baghdad was committed to sticking to the troop withdrawal timetable signed with Washington last November. Hillary, who flew in from Kuwait, was greeted at Baghdad airport by the newly-arrived US ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, US military commander Admiral Michael Mullen, and Zebari. She also held talks with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani and UN Secretary-Generals special representative to Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, and held a town hall event at the US embassy.