The militants were apparently targeting the handover ceremony of a former presidential palace near Tikrit. The mortar missed by some 300 meters. The palace and its extensive grounds had been occupied by U.S. troops and were being returned to the Iraqi authorities. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and the U.S. commander in Iraq, General George Casey, briefly went inside the palace following the blast, but emerged minutes later to finish the ceremony.
In other news,Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is today continuing a three-day visit to neighboring Iran.
Talabani, after talks on 21 November in Tehran with President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, said he was confident of Iranian help in the battle against insurgents in Iraq.