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US Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrives in Iraqi capital on unannounced visit

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, July 22, 2015, file photo, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter pauses as he speaks with media on a military aircraft after departing Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, en route Amman, Jordan. Carter arrived unannounced in Baghdad on Thursday, July 23, 2015, to assess the government’s progress in healing the country’s sectarian divisions and hear the latest on support for the Iraqi army’s coming attempt to recapture the key city of Ramadi from the Islamic State. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, July 22, 2015, file photo, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter pauses as he speaks with media on a military aircraft after departing Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, en route Amman, Jordan. Carter arrived unannounced in Baghdad on Thursday, July 23, 2015, to assess the government’s progress in healing the country’s sectarian divisions and hear the latest on support for the Iraqi army’s coming attempt to recapture the key city of Ramadi from the Islamic State. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, joined by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ron Lewis, right, and Chief of Staff Eric Rosenbach, left, walks the tarmac before boarding his plane at Queen Alia Airport in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, July 23, 2015, en route to Baghdad, Iraq. Carter is on a week long tour of the Middle East focused on reassuring allies about Iran and assessing progress in the coalition air campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)

    U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, joined by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ron Lewis, right, and Chief of Staff Eric Rosenbach, left, walks the tarmac before boarding his plane at Queen Alia Airport in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, July 23, 2015, en route to Baghdad, Iraq. Carter is on a week long tour of the Middle East focused on reassuring allies about Iran and assessing progress in the coalition air campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, joined by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ron Lewis, right, and Chief of Staff Eric Rosenbach, left, boards his plane at Queen Alia Airport in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, July 23, 2015, en route to Baghdad, Iraq. Carter is on a week long tour of the Middle East focused on reassuring allies about Iran and assessing progress in the coalition air campaign against the Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)

    U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, joined by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ron Lewis, right, and Chief of Staff Eric Rosenbach, left, boards his plane at Queen Alia Airport in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, July 23, 2015, en route to Baghdad, Iraq. Carter is on a week long tour of the Middle East focused on reassuring allies about Iran and assessing progress in the coalition air campaign against the Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit to consult with Iraqi leaders and meet with U.S. military commanders.

It is Carter's first visit to Iraq since taking over at the Pentagon in February.

He is expected to focus on progress toward political reconciliation between the Shiites, who control the central government, and the minority Sunnis and Kurds, who feel largely disenfranchised and do not trust the government. It is this split that's at the heart of Iraq's inability to expel the Islamic State, which controls large swaths of the country.

Carter also is expected to get updates on U.S. efforts to train and equip Iraqi security forces, who are gearing up for a counteroffensive in Ramadi, the capital of Sunni-dominated Anbar province.

There are about 3,360 U.S. troops in Iraq.