BAGHDAD –warned Monday against large U.S. troop cuts that could jeopardize recent security gains in , as he marked the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion with a two-day visit to the country.
Cheney used words like “phenomenal” and “remarkable turnaround” to describe a drop in violence in Iraq, and he hailed recently passed legislation aimed at keeping Iraq on a democratic path.
“It would be a mistake now to be so eager to draw down the force that we risk putting the outcome in jeopardy, and I don’t think we’ll do that,” Cheney said after spending the day zigzagging through barricades and checkpoints to get to meetings in and out of the heavily guarded Green Zone. He spent the night at a U.S. military base, the second overnight stay in Iraq for the vice president — the highest-ranking official to do so. Reporters accompanying him were not allowed to disclose the location. Last May, Cheney stayed at Camp Speicher, a base near former leader‘s hometown and about 100 miles north of Baghdad.
“It is good to be back in Iraq,” Cheney, dressed in a suit and dark cowboy boots, said after his meeting with Prime Minister. “It’s especially significant, I think, to be able to return this week as we mark the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the campaign that liberated the people of Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny, and launched them on the difficult but historic road to democracy.”