Speaker John Boehner and five House Members traveled to Iraq for an unannounced weekend visit ahead of the scheduled withdrawal of troops at the end of 2011, the Ohio Republican said Sunday.
House Intelligence members Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), freshman Joe Heck (R-Nev.) and Dan Boren (D-Okla.) joined Boehner in Iraq, where they met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey and senior military leaders.
Thornberry, Conaway, Rooney and Heck are also members of the House Armed Services Committee.
Boehner thanked U.S. troops and civilians for their work in Iraq.
“By taking the fight to al-Qaeda, the insurgency, and other terrorist threats, our men and women in uniform succeeded in providing greater security to the Iraqi population and giving the government the time to build capacity to more effectively meet the needs of the Iraqi people,” he said in a statement Sunday morning. “Our members were able to see this progress firsthand.”
The Congressional delegation focused its attention on the transition and maintaining a relationship between the two nations, Boehner said.
According to Rooney, al-Maliki “hopes that Iraq will serve as an example to the Middle East and the world that Democracy can work in the region.”
“During our meeting with the Prime Minister, we discussed how the U.S. and Iraq can work together through more traditional diplomatic means after our troop withdrawal,” Rooney said in a statement.