Blair in Iraq to show support for PM
British Prime Minister, Tony Blair arrived in Baghdad Sunday on an unannounced visit to meet political leaders and express support for attempts to stem the country's bloodshed. Blair, who is traveling the Middle East to push for Israeli-Palestinian peace, was whisked into the heavily fortified Green Zone from the airport on a military helicopter. He had flown to Baghdad by a Royal Air Force transport plane from Cairo.
According to the AP, Blair was expected to meet President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who was to brief him on progress in handing over security control of the Basra region of southern Iraq from British to Iraqi forces.
Blair's official spokesman said the leader also wanted to show his support for al-Maliki's government, and for the process of reconciliation in Iraq.
"We recognize that the challenges facing the government of Iraq today are huge and the prime minister wants to show his support to Prime Minister Maliki," the spokesman told reporters travelling with Blair.
"The prime minister will assure both Prime Minister Maliki and President Talabani that Britain will give primacy to the Iraqi government's views when considering any future deployment of British troops in Iraq.
"The discussions will also touch on Operation Sinbad in which British and Iraqi troops are working to rid neighbourhoods of Basra of insurgents," the spokesman added, according to AFP.