Troops Pull-Out Row Greets Obama in Iraq; Flying Visit: Barack Obama Meets the Emir of Kuwait. the Presidential Candidates Tour Aims to Boost His Foreign Policy Credentials

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Byline: AMY IGGULDEN

BARACK OBAMA met US officials when he arrived in Iraq today on the third day of his world tour.

As the Democratic presidential candidate flew in from Kuwait a row blew up over his plans to pull US troops out of Iraq if he is elected.

His campaign team claimed that Iraq's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki backed his plan to withdraw all troops within 16 months of being elected.

They added Mr al-Maliki believed that plans to prolong the US mission which is what Mr Obama's opponent, Republican senator John McCain proposes would "cause problems".

But within hours of the remarks being broadcast yesterday, a spokesman for Mr al-Maliki said he had been misunderstood and insisted he did not support any candidate.

The confusion risked casting a shadow over Mr Obama's trip which he hopes will boost his foreign policy credentials.

His precise travel plans in Iraq are confidential but a US insider said the first stop was Basra the base for about 4,000 British troops involved mostly in training Iraqi forces.

He was expected later today for meetings in Baghdad where the airport is located near the vast Camp Victory, a nerve-centre for the US military in the palaces and gardens that were once part of Saddam Hussein's presidential compound. …