Mr. Obama, who spoke to the Iraqi foreign minister [Hoshyar Zebari] by telephone this morning, said he was â€œencouragedâ€ by the reductions in violence in Iraq. But he said the United States still must begin gradually withdrawing troops, at a pace of one to two brigades a month, with a goal of removing most combat troops in 16 months.
â€œWe have no interest in permanent bases in Iraq,â€ Mr. Obama said. â€œI gave him an assurance that should we be elected, an Obama administration will make sure that we continue with the progress thatâ€™s been made in Iraq â€“ that we wonâ€™t act precipitously, but that we will move to end U.S. combat forces in Iraq.â€
So when will the visit be?
Today, Mr. Obama did not say specifically when he intended to take his foreign trip.
â€œYou know, weâ€™ll make an announcement about that,â€ he said. â€œBut as I said, Iâ€™m interested in visiting Iraq and Afghanistan before the election.â€
“Interested in” is not the same as “I will.”
More as it develops…