Photo/Video: Trump acknowledges security concerns over Iraq visit
AL-ASAD AIR BASE,
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday acknowledged he had security concerns about visiting Iraq, saying it was “pretty sad” that he needed such secrecy to see US troops.
On a lightning trip to Iraq that came after mounting criticism that he had not already visited US forces abroad, Trump said he was concerned about making the journey “when I heard what you had to go through.”
“I had concerns about the institution of the presidency. Not for myself personally. I had concerns for the First Lady, I will tell you,” Trump, who made the trip along with his wife Melania, told reporters.
US President Donald Trump greets members of the US military during a stop at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, December 27, 2018. PHOTO | SAUL LOEB | AFP
Trump, who left unannounced from Washington in the dead of night in a darkened plane, said that a “couple” of trips had been previously set up but cancelled as word got out.
“Pretty sad when you spend $7 trillion in the Middle East, and going in has to be under this massive cover with planes all over and all of the greatest equipment in the world, and you do everything to get in safely,” he said.
US First Lady Melania Trump greets members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 26, 2018. PHOTO | SAUL LOEB | AFP
For “security reasons,” the White House was only able to invite Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi to a meeting with Trump two hours before the scheduled time, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
Abdel Mahdi was in another part of Iraq and could not attend, she said.
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 26, 2018. PHOTO | SAUL LOEB | AFP
Trump’s trip came days after his sudden decision to withdraw all 2,000 US troops from Syria, arguing that the Islamic State jihadist group had been defeated and that the United States was paying too much on foreign interventions.