Bush arrives in Baghdad as new al Qaeda leader vows revenge
US President Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq on Tuesday to meet newly named Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and discuss the next steps in the country.
Bush went to Baghdad less than a week after the death of al Qaeda chief in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a bombing attack. The US leader was expected to be in Baghdad a little more than five hours.
Bush met with al-Maliki in heavily fortified green zone. "Good to see you," said al-Maliki, who didn't know Bush was in Baghdad until five minutes before they met, the AP reported. "Thanks for having me," Bush responded. They smiled broadly and gave each other a two-handed handshake.
Bush assured Iraqis on Tuesday that the United States stands with them and their new government. "It's in our interest that Iraq succeed," he said, seated alongside al-Maliki. "I've come to not only look you in the eye. I've also come to tell you that when America gives its word, it keeps its word," Bush told al-Maliki.
The trip was known only to a handful of aides and a small number of reporters sworn to secrecy because of obvious security threats for Bush and members of his entourage.
New al Qaeda leader
Meanwhile, al Qaeda's new leader in Iraq vowed on Tuesday to avenge the killing of his predecessor Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, saying Americans and their Iraqi allies would not be safe in their strongholds, according to a Web statement.
"The day of vengeance is near and your strong towers in the Green Zone will not protect you," according to the statement posted on an Islamist Web site and signed by the new leader Abu Hamza al-Muhajir.
"You will see what we have in store for you because of your betrayal and apostasy. Our swords are poised above your necks," he warned Iraqis who cooperate with U.S.-led forces.