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Gates arrives in Iraq

  • Story Highlights
  • Gates arrived at a U.S. base in southern Iraq on an unannounced visit
  • Defense chief to look at American military's new role of supporting Iraqi forces
  • George Mitchell, Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, also met with top officials
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday arrived in Iraq, where he will meet with the country's prime minister, Nuri al Maliki, and get a first-hand look at the American military's new role of supporting Iraqi forces.

U.S. troops have handed over control of key cities and towns to Iraqi security forces and are scheduled to completely pull out of the country by 2011.

Gates arrived at a U.S. base in southern Iraq on an unannounced visit. On Monday, Gates was in Israel and Jordan.

The defense secretary's visit to the region is part of a busy week of U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East.

George Mitchell, Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, also held meetings with top officials, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.

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