Robert Gates arrives in Iraq for surprising visit 2006-12-20 18:15:01

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates (C) arrives in Baghdad on an unannounced visit, Dec. 20, 2006.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
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    BAGHDAD, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Robert Gates paid a surprising visit to Iraq on Wednesday morning, just two days after being sworn in as the new U.S. Defense Secretary.

    Gates arrived in Baghdad with a mandate from U.S. President George W. Bush to help forge a new Iraq war strategy, AP reported.

    The U.S. administration was under intense pressure from the U.S. Congress and the American public to set up options for the Iraqi war during which more than 2,940 U.S. troops have been killed and about 300 billion U.S. dollars have cost since the war began in March 2003.

    "The whole purpose is to go out, listen to the commanders, talk to the Iraqis, and see what I can learn," Gates was quoted as saying to reporters as he boarded his aircraft in Washington on Tuesday.

    According to media reports, Gates, together with chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, is expected to meet with U.S. and Iraqi military and political leaders during the visit in pursuit of advice from his top military commanders on a new strategy for the war in Iraq.

Editor: Han Lin
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