Gov. Schwarzenegger to visit troops in Iraq

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will travel to Iraq early next week to visit U.S. troops for the first time as governor.

Schwarzenegger previously visited troops on United Service Organizations-sponsored tours in 2002 to Bosnia to preview his movie, "Collateral Damage," as well as in 2003 to Iraq to show "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines."

"He's been wanting to visit the troops for the last few years but hasn't had the opportunity to," said Schwarzenegger communications director Matt David. "He thought now would be a good time to make a short trip over there."

The governor will be in the Middle East for a couple of days, David said. Asked whether Schwarzenegger planned to make any other stops, David said it was possible but that the governor had no further plans at this point. He said he could not provide more specifics for security reasons.

In 2004, Schwarzenegger visited Israel, Jordan and Germany in a four-day overseas tour. He met with political leaders and embassy workers in Israel, had lunch with King Abdullah in Jordan and then visited troops wounded in Iraq at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

With the lieutenant governor seat vacant after John Garamendi won his congressional race last week, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is in line to serve as acting governor when Schwarzenegger leaves the state.

The California State Protocol Foundation, a nonprofit with ties to business groups, will pay for Schwarzenegger and staff to travel to Iraq, according to Aaron McLear, the governor's press secretary.

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