Congressman Tom Latham is in Iraq today (Saturday), part of a six-nation overseas tour. Shortly before five o’clock this morning Iowa time, Latham spoke by phone with Radio Iowa from Baghdad. Latham last visited Iraq in November of last year. “Things have improved dramatically,” Latham says. “Elections, the constitution which they hope to get done by Monday — there are real political improvements. The situation obviously on the ground as far as the insurgency is not settled yet but we’re making great progress.” Latham visited troops in a military hospital in Baghdad after speaking with the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and the general in charge of U.S. military operations in the region. “It’s, you know, about 120 degrees here and it really makes you appreciate the sacrifices these people are making with this kind of heat and the kind of body armor and everything that they have to wear all the time,” Latham says. “It is not a place you’d like to be, certainly, in August here, but they’re doing a tremendous job.” Latham also visited Poland, Hungary, Jordan and Russia before arriving in Iraq. Latham says the trip has helped him better understand why Russia’s attempt to modernize is lagging behind countries like Poland and Hungary. He describes Poland and Hungary as a “breath of fresh air” compared to what he saw firsthand in Russia. Latham says Iraq’s “fledgling democracy” is another hopeful sign for him. “Freedom is very difficult, but these people are making every effort to get it done — the Iraqis and our military,” Latham says. Latham, a Republican from Alexander, and three U-S Senators who’re part of the delegation will visit Ireland tomorrow on the way back to the U-S. Latham’s travel companions are Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss who is Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts who is Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and North Carolina Senator Richard Burr who is the Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Subcommittee on Bioterrorism.
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