Dick Cheney makes surprise Iraq visit

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Dick Cheney

United States Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise visit to Iraq today promoting the recent Iraqi election, amidst an upsurge of violence that has killed more than 30 people. The Vice President's visit was so secretive that even Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was unaware he was coming.

In a visit lasting 10 hours, Mr. Cheney met with military commanders and Iraqi politicians as he was shuttled between locations including the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad and the Al Asad air base in Anbar province west of Baghdad, travelling by a group of eight armed helicopters.

Cheney commented on the recent elections, stating that "I think what started here in Iraq will have an enormous impact through the region," and "We're, as Americans, very proud to be part of that."

Later, Cheney took questions from 30 troops in a large tent. "From our perspective, we don't see much as far as gains," Marine Cpl. Bradley Warren told Cheney. I was wondering what it looks like from the big side of the mountain -- how Iraq's looking." "Well, Iraq's looking good," Cheney responded. "It's hard sometimes, if you look at just the news, to have the good stories burn through. Part of it is that what we're doing here, obviously, takes time from our perspective, looking back, as I say, to a year and a half ago, I think it's remarkable progress. I think we've turned the corner, if you will. I think when we look back from 10 years hence, we'll see that the year '05 was in fact a watershed year here in Iraq."

Cheney's visit was marred by a surge in violence after a relatively quiet period following the elections. Nearly two dozen people, including two police officers, died Sunday in a combination of suicide bombings and insurgent attacks.