Obama arrived in Iraq Monday morning from Kuwait after a visit to Afghanistan, the first leg of his Middle East and European tour designed to boost his say in foreign affairs amid a presidential campaign dead heat back in the United States.
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama arrives (2nd R) at the office of Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad July 21, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
The Democratic presidential candidate has promised to withdraw the U.S. troops from Iraq within 16 months if elected, and send more troops to Afghanistan where security situation is getting worse.
The U.S. Embassy in Iraq said earlier Monday that he will also meet Coalition leadership and U.S. diplomatic officials as well as constituent service members and civilian staff working in Iraq.
Obama's visit came as Iraq and the United States are on a bumpy track toward concluding a bilateral security pact.
On the back of a dramatic security upturn and under increasing pressure at home ahead of the provincial elections which could be held in October, Maliki's government is taking a stronger stance in the negotiations, including voicing a time limit for the presence of U.S. troops when the UN mandate expires at year's end.
The two sides are also at odds over some other issues like whether Iraqi laws would apply to the U.S. service people and contractors in the future.
U.S. Commander in Iraq General David Petraeus (C) shares a laugh with visiting U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama (L) and U.S. senator Chuck Hagel during an aerial tour of Baghdad upon their arrival in Iraq July 21, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)