(VOA) - Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has made an unannounced visit to the western city of Ramadi, a stronghold of Sunni Arab insurgents.
Iraq's al-Anbar province governor Maamoun Sami Rashid al-Alwani (L), Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (C) arrive in Ramadi 13 Mar 2007
News agency reports say Mr. Maliki met with tribal leaders, local government officials and commanders of Iraqi and U.S. security forces in Ramadi Tuesday.
The highly symbolic visit to the capital of the restive Al Anbar province comes as U.S. and Iraqi forces step up a security crackdown in Baghdad and try to end sectarian bloodshed in Iraq.
It was Mr. Maliki's first visit to Ramadi since taking office nearly one year ago.