December 14th, 2008
09:42 AM ET
6 years ago

Bush makes unannounced visit to Iraq

President Bush shakes hands with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad Sunday.
President Bush shakes hands with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad Sunday.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - President Bush made an unannounced visit Sunday to Baghdad, Iraq, where he was to meet with Iraqi leaders and address U.S. troops.

Bush landed at Baghdad International Airport and then was taken by helicopter to the Green Zone, where he shook hands with President Jalal Talabani.

As the U.S. and Iraqi national anthems played and Iraqi troops looked on, he and the Iraqi president walked along a red carpet. Bush was to meet with a number of other Iraqi officials.

His trip was to celebrate the conclusion of the Strategic Framework Agreement and the Status of Forces Agreement, the White House said.

The president departed Andrews AFB at 9:32 p.m. Saturday, accompanied by White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten; Gen Doug Lute, the senior National Security Council official responsible for Afghanistan and Iraq; National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, presidential counselor Ed Gillespie and spokeswoman Dana Perino.

In remarks to reporters, Hadley described the situation in Iraq as "in a transition."

"For the first time in Iraq's history and really the first time in the region, you have Sunni, Shia and Kurds working together in a democratic framework to chart a way forward for their country," he said. Lute predicted that next year will be "a year of transition" in Washington and Iraq. "We are moving into a different relationship, a relationship with Iraqis rightfully exercising greater sovereignty," he said.

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