Donald Trump visits US Army troops in Iraq with wife Melania

Donald Trump visits US Army troops in Iraq with wife Melania

Donald Trump has landed in Iraq for a surprise Christmas visit to US troops, alongside his wife Melania.

It is Trump’s first visit to US troops overseas since becoming president.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump met with military personnel on Wednesday at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, according to photos from Reuters.

He has made the trip despite the US Government being shutdown over a budget impasse as Trump holds out for $5bn in funding for a border wall.

Trump recently announced that US troops would be withdrawing from Syria, a decision which prompted his Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis to resign.

He also said about half the troops in Afghanistan would be heading home.

Today Trump said he has "no plans at all" to remove US troops from the country.

“If we see something happening with ISIS that we don’t like, we can hit them so fast and so hard they really won’t know what the hell happened,” Trump said, according to Bloomberg.

“We’ve knocked them silly.”

He added, referring to the withdrawal of troops, “It’s time for us to start using our head.

“We don’t want to be taken advantage of anymore by countries that use us."

Air Force One was spotted over Europe today which prompted speculation a visit overseas was on the cards but the visit was only confirmed after he touched down.

When asked about the shutdown today the Republican president said: "Nancy (incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi) is calling the shots."

He added: "The American public is demanding a wall."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted: "President Trump and the First Lady traveled to Iraq late on Christmas night to visit with our troops and Senior Military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas."

Veteran White House correspondent for CBS Mark Knoller reported that Air Force One was boarded in privacy in the hangar and departed under cover of darkness.

"All on board instructed to pull down window shades and surrender cell phones," he tweeted.

Journalists who travelled with the president were not allowed to report on the visit until more than two hours after they landed.

National Security Advisor John Bolton is also in Iraq for the visit.

Trump had tweeted that he was "alone" in the White House on Christmas Eve and sent of a barrage of tweets.

His silence since late on Christmas Day sparked questions about his movements.

He cancelled a Christmas trip to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida shortly after it became clear a deal would not be reached over the budget and the government would be shutdown.

Visiting troops abroad is a tradition for presidents. President George W. Bush served Thanksgiving turkey to the soldiers in Baghdad in 2003, in the early days of the Iraq War.

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for his proposed wall.

After Mexico repeatedly refused to do so, he began seeking US taxpayer funding for the wall, which he sees as vital to controlling illegal immigration.

Even with both chambers of Congress and the White House under Republican control for the past two years, former real estate developer Trump has not gained full funding for his wall.

An eight-year-old Guatemalan boy died in Border Patrol custody on Christmas Day, the second death of a young migrant in such circumstances in a month.

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