US Vice-President in Iraq for talks on US troops

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BAGHDAD - US Vice President Joe Biden held talks in Baghdad during a surprise visit Thursday in the first high-level visit by a US official since the country formed a new cabinet.

During his visit, Biden said that a democratic and prosperous Iraq was “the single most significant strategic thing that can happen to the US in this region”.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani told Biden: “You are one of our best friends … we count on you.”

“And when you leave our country, I know our relations will remain,” Talabani said.

The US has said it will pull its remaining 50,000 troops out of the country by the end of the year.

Following his meeting with Biden, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed that Iraq will “meet the challenges it faces, whether it be security, political or otherwise”.

On the same day Biden met with Iraqi officials, three bombs targeted mosques in Baghdad, killing two people and wounding around 11, according to security sources.

During his visit, Biden was set to also meet with other Iraqi leaders including Iyad Allawi, of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc.

But there are those calling for resistance against the US. Upon his return to Iraq from nearly four years of exile, anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told his supporters over the weekend to resist US “occupiers”.

“We say no, no, no to the US and yes, yes, yes to resistance,” al-Sadr told thousands of his supporters.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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