President Obama marked another first on his first trip overseas; he made an unscheduled stop to Iraq. According to the White House Press Pool traveling with Obama, although Turkey was supposed to be his last stop before heading back to Washington D.C. late this afternoon, the president had Air Force One land in the capital city of Baghdad in hopes of directly reaching out to Iraqi leaders.
Some credit President Obama's election with his early denouncement of the unpopular war in Iraq. During his first 100 days in office, he signed an executive order to withdraw most troops from the country by August 31, 2010. In a compromise with legislators who didn't agree with the order, Obama extended the deadline three months, assuring Americans that our Iraqi occupation would completely end by December 2011.
This is President Obama's first visit to Iraq as president; the last time he was there was during his presidential campaign. He plans to visit troops stationed in the country, and in passing greeted some Iraqi civilians. Obama's first formal post-inaugural interview went to the Muslim television network Al Arabiya, where he pledged to work hard to bridge the political and cultural gap between Islamic nations and the United States.
"To the broader Muslim world, what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship," Obama said during the interview. This impromptu trip signals a good faith first step.