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Bush in Baghdad for farewell visit ending his controversial Iraqi policy
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09:05, December 15, 2008

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U.S. President George W. Bush arrived in Baghdad Sunday in an unannounced visit, after Iraq agreed a security pact with Washington, which will allow U.S. troops to station for three more years, CNN reported.

The president, accompanied by his national security adviser Stephen Hadley and spokeswoman Dana Perino, departed from Andrews Air Force Base on Saturday night and arrived at Baghdad International Airport on Sunday.

In Baghdad, Bush met his Iraqi counterpart Jalal Talabani. He is scheduled to meet other top Iraqi officials and to address U.S. troops stationed there, according to the report.

The unannounced visit, less than 40 days ahead of the end of Bush's tenure, is his fourth as president and is viewed as a farewell for his controversial Iraqi policy, which labeled with a war in 2003 by a fabricated excuse and with an attempt to permanently station troops there in order to ensure its benefit in the oil-rich Middle East.

President-elect Barack Obama, who will take office on Jan. 20, has pledged to end the policy by withdrawing all the U.S. troops from Iraq in 16 months.

Bush's visit to Iraq was to celebrate the conclusion of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq, said CNN.

The SOFA pact stated, among other things, that the U.S. troops will withdraw from Iraq's cities, towns and villages by June 30 next year to their bases and will leave the country on Dec. 31, 2011.

For months, the two countries were at odds over the agreement, which the U.S. needs as a legitimate support for the station of its troops beyond 2008 after the current UN mandate ends on Dec. 31.

Source: Xinhua

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