Barack Obama began his solemn trip to Tucson, Arizona Wednesday afternoon, with a visit to wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and other victims in last Saturday's shooting rampage, Xinhua reported.
Obama spent nine minutes with Giffords and her husband at the University Medical Center, said officials accompanying the president.
"The president wanted to begin this solemn trip by stopping first at the hospital where Congresswoman Giffords and others continue to recuperate," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy also are accompanying Obama on his trip.
Giffords remained in critical condition as of Wednesday, four days after being shot in the head in Tucson, Arizona, doctors said.
Doctors cautioned that Giffords is still in a dangerous phase of her recovery because of brain swelling, but they expect she will be in much better shape as early as Friday.
Giffords is recovering well and making small movements on her own as doctors ease sedation, indicating progress was "going as anticipated," University Medical Center Trauma Director Dr. Peter Rhee said.
Rhee said that Giffords' recovery can proceed very slowly or could "spiral downward."
"None of the downward events has occurred at this time, which is what we want," he said.
Other than Giffords, five patients remain in the hospital with three listed in serious condition and two in fair condition.
The motive for the killing remains unknown as the 22-year-old gunman Jared Loughner refused to cooperate with authorities since his arrest after the shooting.