First draft: Obama slips into Iraq

April 7, 2009

OBAMA-TURKEY/After calling for Middle East peace and saying he believed in a dialogue with Islam, President Barack Obama ended his first international tour with a surprise trip to Iraq.

Obama took off from Istanbul and, instead of heading home to Washington, traveled to Iraq for a quick visit. He was due to meet U.S. commanders and troops and will speak to Iraqi leaders by telephone. Poor weather in the area caused him to scratch plans to take a helicopter to meet Iraqi leaders in person.

The White House said Obama — who won strong support during the presidential campaign for vowing to wind down the unpopular war in Iraq — would tell Iraqi leaders that there are political solutions to their challenges.

After his foray into foreign policy, Obama will be returning to Washington to deal with the recession at home. But he should be coming home in good spirits — recent polls show Americans are more optimistic about the economy and the direction of their country since Obama took office.

The latest New York Times/CBS News poll showed two-thirds of those surveyed approved of Obama’s overall job performance. Thirty-nine percent said they felt the country was going in the right direction — the highest since Feb. 2005 at the beginning of former President George W. Bush’s first term.BASKETBALL/NCAA

The big question: Did Obama have time to watch the men’s NCAA title basketball game on Monday night? If he didn’t see it live, maybe he’ll see a recording on Air Force One on his way back home. He’ll be sure to be happy to discover that his prediction was right. The North Carolina Tar Heels did indeed go all the way to win the title in a 89-72 rout of Michigan State.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credits: REUTERS/Umit Bektas (Obama waves as he boards Air Force One in Turkey) ; REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (University of North Carolina Tar Heels’ Dany Green holds up NCAA championship trophy)

One comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Thanks for an explanation. I did not know it.

Posted by Lawrence Depugh | Report as abusive