Trump to USA troops in Iraq

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Trump and the first lady had travelled to Iraq in secret to share Christmas with United States troops stationed in the Arab country, the White House said on Wednesday.

It was fleeting and minus his defence secretary, but at least Donald Trump has finally visited U.S. troops in a conflict zone for the first time as president.

Trump delivered a speech to around 100 uniformed service members at an air base west of Baghdad where he defended his decision to pull American troops out of Syria.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis tendered his resignation last Thursday over Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria and draw down numbers in Afghanistan in addition to other differences.

After departing Iraq, Trump stopped over at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where he and Melania shook hands and greeted some of the hundreds of troops gathered in a hangar.

Last week, Trump said that he would withdraw all USA soldiers in Syria, a decision that was met with shock within the United States government as well as regional allies.

He defended his decision to withdraw from Syria, saying "The United States can not continue to be the policeman of the world". But speculation had been mounting that he would finally make the gesture following his controversial plan to slash troop levels in Afghanistan and his order to withdraw entirely from Syria.

USA defence secretary Jim Mattis abruptly resigned following the announcement, and Mr Trump's decision rattled allies around the world, including in Iraq.

US President Donald Trump speaks to members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq
US President Donald Trump speaks to members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq

Trump's first visit to US troops deployed overseas came during the ongoing government shut-down in Washington, which began last week after the Trump Administration and Congress failed to agree over funding for a wall at the USA border with Mexico.

"When I heard what you had to go through".

Trump also emphasised that his visit to the combat zone was to enable him to pay his respects to the "incredible troops" that the USA now has stationed in Iraq.

Bina said Trump's visit "places many question marks on the nature of the USA military presence and its real objectives, and what these objectives could pose to the security of Iraq". "We've knocked them out", he said, referring to ISIS.

During the call, Trump invited Abdel Mahdi to visit Washington and he accepted, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. Mattis had planned to leave at the end of February but Trump forced him to go on January 1 after his resignation letter.

During his visit, Trump said he had "no plans at all" to remove U.S. troops from Iraq, but defended his planned withdrawal from Syria, saying the USA presence there was never meant to be "open-ended" and that sufficient military gains had been made against the extremist group "Islamic State" (IS) there.

The details of Trump and the First Lady's surprise trip to Iraq were embargoed on Tuesday and Wednesday for security reasons until the President had finished giving remarks to troops.

"I had concerns for the First Lady I will tell you". It is his first visit with troops stationed in a troubled region.

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