Dick Cheney's unannounced stopover in Iraq turned into a 29-hour stay, as the Vice-President spent the night on a US base near Tikrit Wednesday, holding a rally for US troops before boarding a plane to Abu Dhabi to continue his Middle East tour.
Cheney slept in the "distinguished visitors quarters" at Camp Speicher, a sprawling desert outpost seven miles from the northern city of Tikrit, and had breakfast with soldiers on the base.
Later, he spoke to several thousand mostly Army forces under a huge tent, where he took the chance to thank them for their service and acknowledge the hardship endured by troops and their families.
AP reports that Cheney was enthusiastically cheered and greeted when he stepped up on stage, but only politely applauded when he talked about deployment extensions.
"Many of you have had your deployments extended," Cheney told the soldiers. "I want you to know the extension is vital to the mission. The Army and the country appreciate the extra burden you carry."
"We're fighting a war against terror," Cheney said. "We are here, above all, because the terrorists who have declared war on America and other free nations have made Iraq the central front in that war."
Cheney's had lunch with Petraeus before leaving on Air Fore Two. The unannounced stopover in Iraq launched a week-long tour of the Middle East during which Cheney will meet with leaders in the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.