President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet US soldiers at al-Asad airbase in Iraq on December 26, 2018. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – US President Donald Trump made his first trip to Iraq, spending a few hours with US troops at al-Asad airbase, west of Baghdad.
First Lady Melania Trump accompanied him on the surprise trip.
Trump said he has “no plans at all” to order a withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, similar to what he ordered for US troops in Syria last week.
He had previously said that US forces could use Iraq as a staging ground for targeted forays across the border into Syria.
There are some 5,000 US soldiers in Iraq, compared to about 2,000 on the ground in Syria.
Trump spent about three and a half hours on the ground, visiting troops, meeting US officials, and taking a few questions from reporters.
A scheduled meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was cancelled. It is not immediately clear why.
He defended his decision to withdraw from Syria, saying "The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world."