Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The visit

Hugh Sykes said that Iraqis he had spoken to thought Bush's visit was insulting, given the short notice that the Iraqi PM, Nuri al-Maliki, had received (PM, BBC Radio 4, 13 Jun 2006).
The trip was Mr. Bush's second to Iraq, after his trip here at Thanksgiving in 2003, when he remained at an American military base at the Baghdad airport, and arrived and departed under cover of darkness. This time, he landed in midafternoon and left the safety of the airport for the 10-mile journey by helicopter over some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Baghdad, including predominantly Sunni Arab districts on the city's western edge that have been a haven for insurgents.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bush left the palace at 9.20 p.m., and boarded an American military helicopter for Baghdad's international airport and Air Force One, which had carried the president and a small party of White House aides from Washington on the 11-hour journey on Monday night. Aides said that the return trip would involve a refueling stop at an American air base in Mildenhall in Britain, and that Mr. Bush would be back in Washington by dawn on Wednesday.
JOHN F. BURNS and DEXTER FILKINS in the NYT

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