BAGHDAD, (AP) -Iraq’s Shiite prime minister on Tuesday made a groundbreaking and unannounced visit to Ramadi, the Sunni insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, a senior staff member told The Associated Press.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had flown to the insurgent bastion Tuesday morning.
An AP reporter in Ramadi said police in the city told him al-Maliki was meeting tribal leaders and the Iraqi chief of security for the province at a U.S. base.
The visit comes at a time when the U.S. military is pressing a campaign to encourage Iraq’s Sunnis — those involved in or sympathetic to the insurgency — to stop attacks and break with al-Qaida in Iraq fighters who have taken deep root in Anbar Province.
Ramadi is the capital of the sprawling province that stretches west from Baghdad to the Saudi Arabian, Jordanian and Syrian borders.