President Obama made a surprise detour to Iraq on Tuesday, stopping to visit American troops and commanders before returning to Washington from his first overseas trip as president.
Air Force One landed at Baghdad International Airport at 4:42 pm, according to a pool report from reporters traveling with the president.
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said Iraq was chosen over Afghanistan as a final stop because of its proximity to Turkey, where Mr. Obama has been for the last two days, as well as a need to consult with Iraqi officials. And, Mr. Gibbs said, the trip was primarily to see troops.
“Our men and women who are in harm’s way, either in Iraq or Afghanistan, deserve our utmost respect and appreciation,” Mr. Gibbs said, adding that the president will award 10 medals of valor.The trip is Mr. Obama’s third to Iraq, but his first as the commander in chief.