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Obama starts Iraq visit

Article published on the 2008-07-21 Latest update 2008-07-21 14:12 TU

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is in Iraq for talks with local leaders and US commanders, after pledging to pull out US troops in 16 months if he takes over the White House this year. It is Obama's second trip to Iraq after a similar Congressional fact-finding tour in January 2006.

Obama has said the aim of his tour is to make an on-the-ground assessment of the war in Iraq and to meet the country's leaders whom he has says have not done enough to rebuild their country.

He spent the night in Kuwait after a visit to Kabul, where he pledged to downsize the number of US troops in Iraq and to commit at least two more combat brigades to Afghanistan.

Obama also confirmed that he would declare an end to the Iraq war from the first day of his presidency if he wins in November, and would withdraw most US combat troops within 16 months.

"Obama is very inexperienced in foreign policy," said Professor John Dumbrell, from the School of government and international affairs at Durham University.

"Generally speaking, there's been a great deal of enthusiasm in the Democratic party for a quick withdrawal from Iraq, and Obama, to some extent has benefitted from that," he added.

Sunni Arab Khalaf Marhoon from Haweeja in the northern oil province of Kirkuk said he felt that if Obama became the next president it would change "the face of the Iraq war." "I feel confident about Obama when he makes announcements of withdrawing the US military from Iraq," he told AFP.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and US President George Bush have agreed to include a "time-horizon" for the withdrawal of US forces in a security pact which is still being negotiated.