By Cindy Saine
17 March 2008
Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain is visiting Iraq, as part of a trip to the Middle East and Europe that highlights his foreign policy and national security experience. In Washington, Democratic candidate Senator Hillary Clinton has given a major speech on the Iraq war, criticizing both McCain and her Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama. VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington.
Sen. John McCain, (r), addresses reporters during a press conference, as Sen. Joe Lieberman looks on in Baghdad, 17 Mar 2008
Just days ahead of the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Senator McCain is in Baghdad to meet with Iraqi leaders and senior U.S. military officials. He has stressed that he is on a fact-finding mission for the Senate Armed Services Committee, and says he is not there for a photo opportunity for his campaign.
McCain has already clinched the Republican presidential nomination, while his two Democratic rivals remain locked in an extended battle to be their party's candidate for the White House in November.
Senator McCain strongly supported sending additional troops to Iraq last year to improve the security situation so that the Iraqi government would have breathing room for political reconciliation. Speaking to ABC news while in Iraq, he again defended the so-called "surge" of U.S. troops and the Iraqi government, while criticizing Clinton and Obama.
"Senator Obama and Senator Clinton said the surge would never work, it has worked," he said. "Now they say that they [the Iraqi government] can not function politically. They are functioning politically - very poorly, two steps forward and one step back.
Earlier in the presidential campaign, McCain was asked how long U.S. troops would need to remain in Iraq, and he said its possible they could remain for 100 years, if necessary. He tried to explain that comment from Iraq.
"When I said 100 years, it was obviously after the war is over," he said. "After wars are over, we most of the time have a military presence there."
Source: VOA News