ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- It's in the best interest of the United States to do everything it can to help Iraq prevent political conflicts from turning violent, a U.S. diplomat said.
Iraqi political tensions flared up almost immediately after U.S. military forces returned home from Iraq in December after more than eight years at war. The Shiite prime minister of Iraq wants his Sunni vice president arrested on terrorist charges. The vice president, meanwhile, sought refuge in the Kurdish north of Iraq, whose government said it isn't obliged to comply with Baghdad's request to have him arrested.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns told Turkey's Anadolu News Agency Washington honored its agreement with Iraq by pulling military forces out of the country, but that doesn't mean the government washed its hands of the matter.
"The end of our military involvement absolutely does not mean the end of America's commitment to Iraq and its stability," Burns told the news agency.
He added it was "very much" in the U.S. government's interest to do "everything we can" to help Iraq prevent the political crisis from turning into a sectarian war.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was quoted by the Voice of Iraq news agency as saying political leaders in Baghdad had met in an effort to "settle the suspended" problems plaguing the country.