House Speaker Dennis Hastert visits Iraq

June 4, 2006 at 4:33 PM

BAGHDAD, June 4 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert flew into Baghdad Friday morning on a surprise visit at the request of President George W. Bush.

Hastert arrived with an optimistic message, despite the recent escalation of violence in Iraq, The Chicago Tribune reported. He said Congress was prepared to support U.S. troops and back Iraq's new government.

"The birth of this historic government represents a new day of hope for the Iraqi people," said Hastert at a press conference in Baghdad.

Hastert supports a supplemental spending bill to support the troops on the ground, said his spokesman, Ron Bonjean.

Hastert's visit highlighted the role he will play as the Republican Party campaigns to retain control of the House of Representatives this year, the newspaper said.

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