Feb 18 2007

Corker Makes First Trip to Iraq to Evaluate Situation on the Ground

Tennessee Senator Meets with Troops, General Petraeus, Ambassador Khalilzad

Baghdad, Iraq - U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) has just ended his first trip to Iraq where he met with U.S. troops, General David Petraeus, commander of multi-national forces in Iraq, and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, current U.S. ambassador to Iraq and President Bush's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Corker traveled to Iraq as part of a Congressional delegation (codel) led by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Before leaving Washington, D.C. on Friday, Corker said he was looking forward to his first trip to Iraq and "seeing the situation on the ground firsthand." "I've been in the Senate for six weeks now, and as a member of the Foreign Relations committee I've spent much of that time in hearings listening to tremendously informative testimony by distinguished experts and senior officials sharing their views on Iraq. I've read and studied, and I've held meetings. But absolutely nothing replaces being there and seeing it firsthand. "I look forward to visiting with our U.S. troops who are serving us so bravely and honorably in Iraq. I also look forward to seeing General Petraeus in his new post as commander of Coalition forces in Iraq. I met with him privately during his Senate confirmation in January and asked if he felt fully supported by the administration and if he was getting everything he needs. I look forward to following up on that question with General Petraeus. "This will be my first trip to Iraq, but I expect that it will not be my last. Iraq will remain at the top of this country's priorities, and I intend to keep the soldiers there among my highest concerns. I believe the trip will be transforming, and I look forward to returning to Tennessee next week to share the experience with people across the state." Corker will return to Tennessee on Monday and will spend the week, the Senate's February recess, visiting counties across the state. Corker's visit to Iraq required that he miss a procedural vote on the Iraq resolution before the United States Senate on Saturday. Corker said, "I regret missing any vote, but I had to weigh the value of being in Iraq, speaking firsthand with the highest commanders and with the soldiers serving there, and I decided that it was more important for me to visit the war zone. Because of the lack of our ability to debate and add other resolutions, I would have voted against cloture, and my absence creates the same result." ###