Donald And Melania Trump Visits US Troops In Iraq During Christmas Trip

President And First Lady Visits US Troops In Iraq US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have made an unannounced Christmas visit to US troops in Iraq....

President And First Lady Visits US Troops In Iraq

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have made an unannounced Christmas visit to US troops in Iraq. They traveled 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. 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. However, a planned meeting between Mr Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was canceled. 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 and the White House said Mr Mahdi had accepted an invitation to visit Washington.

Mr Trump, his wife and National Security Adviser John Bolton traveled on Air Force One to the al-Asad airbase, west of the capital Baghdad, to meet military personnel in the base’s restaurant. It was 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 anymore. Great job.”

Mr Trump had planned to spend Christmas at his private golf club in Florida but stayed behind in Washington because of the current partial government shutdown.

The visit to Iraq lasted about three hours. On the flight back, the president’s plane refueled at Ramstein Air Base in Germany and Mr Trump used the brief stopover to meet troops stationed there. He posed for pictures and shook hands with some of the hundreds of soldiers who lined up inside a hangar.

The president also said that security considerations had prevented him from visiting US troops in the region several weeks ago.

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