BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) – Barack Obama - the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate who has made ending the Iraq war a cornerstone of his historic run for office - huddled on Monday with Iraqi officials and coalition military commanders about the status of the grinding, bloody conflict, now in its sixth year.
It is the Illinois senator's second trip to Iraq, after a visit in 2006, and the latest leg of his overseas trip, which began in Kuwait and Afghanistan and will continue on to Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, Germany, France and England.
Obama - who is accompanied by two key Senate colleagues - arrived Monday afternoon in the southern city of Basra, according to U.S. Embassy spokesman Armand Cucciniello.
Obama met with Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq; British Maj. Gen. Barney White Spunner, commander of Multi-National Division South East; and Iraqi Army's 14th Division Commander Maj. General Abdul Aziz.
Obama then traveled to Baghdad, where he was to meet Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. troops in Iraq, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Obama is traveling with Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a leading Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee and is an outspoken GOP critic of the Iraq war.
"The senators have a busy day ahead of them, as they meet with senior Iraqi officials, coalition leadership and officials from the U.S. Embassy," Cucciniello said, adding that the senators also plan to meet with troops from their home states and U.S. civilians working in Iraq.
Obama's candidacy has generated popularity overseas.
A recent Pew Research Center survey said "people around the world who have been paying attention to the American election express more confidence in Barack Obama than in John McCain to do the right thing regarding world affairs."
Obama has said that if elected, he will commit more troops to Afghanistan and would order the military to end the war in Iraq, which he has called "dangerous distraction" from the battle in Afghanistan.
Obama spent Saturday and Sunday in Afghanistan, where he met with U.S. troops at three bases and with Afghan President Hamid Karzai - a leader the Democratic senator has criticized for doing too little to rebuild the war-torn nation.
The fight in Afghanistan has recently become a more pressing issue on the political radar and more coalition forces have died in Afghanistan than Iraq in May, June and so far in July.
This month's death toll for U.S. and allied troops reached 24 Saturday, after incidents Sunday in southern and eastern Afghanistan left two soldiers dead. At least nine U.S. troops have died in Iraq this month.
But the fight persists in Iraq, where U.S. and Iraqi troops regularly conduct raids against both Sunni and Shiite extremist groups and militants regularly conduct bombings. The U.S. military announced Monday more operations as Obama visited Iraq.
On Sunday and Monday, troops seized "an alleged senior adviser for al Qaeda in Iraq's Mosul network" and detained 10 additional suspects in Mosul and Baghdad.
Early Monday, troops detained a suspected propaganda specialist for the Hezbollah Brigades, a home-grown cell described as an "offshoot of Iranian-trained Special Groups."
The Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq is distinct from the more well-known Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. "Special Groups" is the term the U.S. military uses to describe Iranian-backed Shiite militants in Iraq.
Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain criticized Obama's proposals as naive and premature. He has said Obama was wrong to talk about his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan before he "even left, before he has talked to Gen. Petraeus, before he has seen the progress in Iraq and before" his first visit to Afghanistan, which happened Saturday and Sunday.
"In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around: First, you assess the facts on the ground; then you present a new strategy," McCain said.
Last week, in a major address laying out his foreign policy position, Obama said, "As should have been apparent to President Bush and Sen. McCain, the central front in the war on terror is not Iraq, and it never was."
He said part of his strategy would be "taking the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan."