U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama flew into Iraq on Monday. Obama has called for the pullout of American combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office should he win the election.
Obama has come under attack from Republican candidate John McCain for not making a recent visit to assess conditions in Iraq. McCain has been to Iraq eight times while Obama's only other trip was in 2006.
According to Reuters, the American embassy said Obama, who is visiting Iraq as part of a U.S. congressional delegation, would meet senior Iraqi officials, U.S. military commanders and American soldiers.
Later, Obama will travel to other countries in the Middle East and also visit major powers in Europe.
Obama courted controversy on July 3 when he said he might "refine" his views on withdrawing combat troops from Iraq within 16 months but later said his stance had been unchanged for more than a year and that he intended "to end this war".
In a speech last Tuesday, Obama conveyed a "single-minded" focus on Iraq was distracting the United States from other threats, and he promised to shift resources to fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Obama called the situation in Afghanistan "precarious and urgent" on Sunday and said Washington should start planning to transfer more troops there from Iraq.