Troops in Baghdad Cheer President Obama's Surprise Visit

Obama's opposition to the war in Iraq was a critical part of his campaign for the presidency. In a speech in October 2002 Obama stated his opposition to the war in Iraq and said while he did not oppose "all wars" he did oppose "dumb wars."

The Baghdad stop wrapped up the president's first overseas trip which aides declared to be "enormously productive."

Obama ended his trip with cultural events and a town hall meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, with about 100 Turkish university students.

As he has done several times before on this trip, Obama spoke to the students about change and looked toward the future, promising a "new chapter in American engagement" with the rest of the world.

Building New Ties to World Leaders

"When people come together and speak to one another and share a common experience, than their common humanity is revealed," the president said. "When that happens, mistrust begins to fade and our smaller differences no longer overshadow the things that we share."

Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod declared the trip to be "enormously productive," both in terms of substance and building relationships with world leaders and their populations.

The accomplishments on the trip that Axelrod highlighted include securing the commitment of G-20 nations for greater regulation of financial institutions, support among NATO nations for the president's Afghanistan strategy and building a number of stronger relationships with foreign leaders.

"Throughout the campaign, the president spoke about the need to repair our relationships in the world, to mend our frayed alliances and begin again a dialogue with our allies and discussions with our adversaries to try to move America's agenda forward, to try to make our country safer, to set the conditions for a better future," Axelrod said. "We feel that we've taken a great step forward on this trip."

Axelrod said the president had the opportunity to establish personal relationships with many leaders who will prove to be key to "promoting America's interest in the world and the world's security in the future."

White House aides believe that Obama's popularity abroad will make it easier for world leaders to cooperate with the United States.

Axelrod joked that some seeking to gauge the success of the trip seem to be asking, "'Why didn't the waters part, the sun shine and all the ills of the world disappear because President Obama came to Europe this week?' That wasn't our expectation," he said. "That will take at least a few weeks."

Obama Gets Pat on Back for Basketball Picks

Earlier this morning, Obama met with Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders, including Grand Mufti of Istanbul professor Mustafa Çagrici, Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva and Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Yusuf Cetin.

Obama talked more than religion and politics during a separate meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the archbishop of Constantinople, according to a White House aide. After detailing a long list of items accomplished by Obama on this trip, including his speech to the Turkish Parliament Monday, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I threw in a little hoops talk.

"Oh, and by the way, congratulations on North Carolina," the archbishop said, referring to Obama's successful pick of the Tar Heels to win the NCAA college basketball tournament Monday night in Detroit.

The president, according to the White House aide, laughed and smiled.

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