26th December, 2018
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have made an unannounced Christmas visit to US troops in Iraq.
They travelled there “late on Christmas night” to thank troops for “their service, their success and their sacrifice”, the White House said.
Mr Trump said the US had no plans to pull out of Iraq, Reuters reports.
BBC reports that the trip came days after Defence Secretary Jim Mattis quit over divisions about strategy in the region.
The US still has some 5,000 troops in Iraq to support the government in its fight against what remains of the Islamic State (IS) group.
rump and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was cancelled. Mr Mahdi’s office said it was because of disagreements on how to conduct the meeting. A phone call between the two leaders was held instead, officials added.
Mr Trump, his wife and National Security Adviser John Bolton travelled on Air Force One to al-Asad airbase, west of the capital Baghdad, to meet military personnel in the base’s restaurant.
He spent about three hours at the base in what is his first visit to the region.
During the visit he got a standing ovation from troops as he entered a dining hall and walked around greeting them, posing for selfies and signing autographs.
He said the reason for the visit was to personally thank them for helping to defeat IS, adding: “Two years ago when I became president they were a very dominant group, today they’re not so dominant any more. Great job.”
Video of Trump’s visit to troops in Iraq
President Donald Trump made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Wednesday to talk with U.S. troops stationed there.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump landed at Al Asad Airbase in western Iraq at 7:16 p.m. local time.https://t.co/tPVZ5cdSWk pic.twitter.com/hFdAY9iMKx
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) December 26, 2018