President Bush landed today in Anbar Province, just west of Baghdad, for a surprise trip in advance of the September 15 status briefing on Iraq. Bush will meet with President Nouri al-Maliki, local officials and US generals including David Petraeus, CNN reports. The president was on his way to a summit in Australia when he showed up unexpectedly.
This is Bush's first visit to the war-torn country in more than a year; he's joined by Douglas Lute, the new Iraq czar, as well as Condi Rice and Robert Gates. The White House says it picked the Sunni region of Anbar to highlight the progress US forces have made against al-Qaeda there. Leaders told Bush that troop morale is "high" and that they're succeeding in allying with local tribal leaders.