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Gov. Perdue spends Veterans Day with troops in Iraq

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue spent Veterans Day visiting troops in Iraq.

The commander in chief of the Georgia National Guard said he arrived Monday in Southwest Asia where he’s been meeting with commanders and spending time with soldiers.

“I’m very encouraged with the progress that has been made in Iraq,” Perdue said Tuesday. “I have been able to visit troops from across Georgia and it is clear that the strength and courage of our soldiers have made a real difference here.”

Perdue is touring the area as part of a delegation of governors rounded out by Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Ted Kulongoski of Oregon and Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming.

The governors broke bread Monday with soldiers representing all four states during a cookout that included such fare as grilled chicken, steak, potato salad and baked beans.

“All in all, the spirit and morale of our troops is palpable,” Perdue said. “They feel that there’s light at the end of the tunnel and they feel that they’ve made a difference.”

Perdue said he was honored to have the opportunity to share Veterans Day with those serving their country overseas.

“I encourage all Georgians to do all they can to show our veterans how much we appreciate their service and commitment to our great country,” Perdue said.

The delegation will be traveling to Dubai later this week where Perdue said he’ll attend the Dubai Airshow. Though the governor wouldn’t confirm his itinerary included a stop in Afghanistan — where the Georgia National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade is stationed — he didn’t deny the possibility of visiting the area before heading to Dubai.

Perdue last traveled to Iraq in November 2005 when the 48th, headquartered in Macon, was deployed there for more than a year.

Prior to departing for Iraq on Monday, Perdue received a briefing in Washington by Secretary of the Defense Robert Gates and other Pentagon officials.

Perdue also met with wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.