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Cheney: Five years in Iraq a 'successful endeavor'

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  • NEW: Dick Cheney: No decisions have been made on future troop withdrawals
  • Vice president meets with U.S., Iraqi officials on unscheduled stop in Iraq
  • Cheney also set to visit Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank
  • Cheney expected to discuss gas prices, Israeli-Palestinian conflict during trip
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney told reporters Monday in Baghdad that the five years in Iraq since the war's start has been "well worth the effort."

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Vice President Dick Cheney talks with Gen. David Petraeus on Monday in Baghdad.

"I think it's been a difficult, challenging but nonetheless successful endeavor," Cheney said on an unannounced visit to their Iraqi capital.

"I think the president's made a number of very tough and difficult decisions that have been carried out by some extraordinarily capable people."

The vice president appeared with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to the country.

He said he had met with top officials in the Iraqi government. Aides said that included Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani as well as Iraq's vice presidents and other key political leaders.

Cheney said that no decision had been made about future troop withdrawals and that President Bush would make such decisions after a briefing from officials that included Crocker and Petraeus. He said such a move would be based on conditions on the ground at the time.

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"I come away with a sense that there has been significant progress since I've been here 10 months ago," he said.

He also said the next U.S. president should make sure that U.S. troops remain in Iraq.

Cheney began a trip to the Middle East on Sunday with an official itinerary that listed stops in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank, according to the White House.

The vice president was expected to discuss a number of issues during his trip, including high gasoline prices and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Cheney is the latest top U.S. official to travel to the Mideast. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the region last month to jump-start peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. Bush has said that he hopes to establish a Mideast peace deal before leaving office.

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, also was in Baghdad on Sunday as part of a U.S. congressional delegation visiting Iraq. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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