Republican presidential hopeful John McCain said Monday that his Democratic rival Barack Obama will see during his trip to Iraq that he was wrong to oppose the troop "surge" strategy.
As Obama made his second trip to Iraq to meet with officials including war commander David Petraeus, McCain told NBC television that last year's surge of some 30,000 additional US troops has helped bring down violence.
"I'm glad that Senator Obama is going to get a chance for the first time to sit down with General David Petraeus and understand what the surge was all about, why it succeeded and why we are winning the war," McCain said.
McCain said the Democrat "used his opposition to the surge as a way of gaining the nomination of his party."
"I hope he will have a chance to admit that he badly misjudged the situation and he was wrong when he said that the surge wouldn't work. It has succeeded and we're winning the war," he said.
McCain has heavily criticized Obama for visiting Iraq only once before since the war was launched in March 2003. The Democrat is traveling as part of a Congressional delegation, along with senators Jack Reed and Chuck Hagel.
While McCain has been a steadfast supporter of the war and the surge, Obama opposed it from the start and has pledged to withdraw most combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office in January 2009.
German weekly Der Spiegel said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki backed Obama's withdrawal timetable, but Baghdad has denied the report.
McCain, who has met with Maliki and visited Iraq eight times, said the Iraqis want US troop withdrawals to be based on conditions on the ground.
"I have been there too many times, I've met too many times with them and I know what they want. They want it based on conditions, and of course they would like to have us out, that's what happens when you win wars, you leave," he said.
Obama says Afghanistan should be the central front in the US "war on terror" and wants to deploy more troops in the country. While McCain agrees that more troops are needed there, he has criticized Obama's strategy.
"You can't choose to lose a war in Iraq in my view in order to win in Afghanistan," McCain told NBC. "Of course we have problems in Afghanistan and as we succeed in Iraq there will be troops available to go to Afghanistan."
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