A prosperous and democratic Iraq is the "single best thing" the United States could want in the region, Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday in Baghdad. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo
BERLIN, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden left Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Thursday night for Washington after visiting Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
In Baghdad, on his last stop before jetting back to the United States, Biden visited with U.S. troops at Camp Victory, noting 4,422 American personnel had died in Iraq while another 32,000 had been wounded.
He said the United States will end the Iraq war responsibly, leaving behind a country that is worthy of the sacrifices "that so many of your brothers and sisters have made."
The United States ended its combat mission in August, leaving behind about 50,000 troops who remain mostly in an advisory role and for training. A prosperous and democratic Iraq is the "single best thing" the United States could want in the region, Biden said at a media briefing with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
In Pakistan, a country under a political cloud and incessantly ravaged by militant violence, Biden sought to offer assurance that a close U.S. partnership with Pakistan is in the "vital self-interest" of both countries.
The United States wants the Pakistani military's deeper involvement in the fight against terrorism especially in that country's tribal regions, which are suspected to be a haven for the Taliban, al-Qaida and other terror groups for launching attacks on U.S. and NATO troops in neighboring Pakistan.
Biden noted there were some in Pakistan who believe that in America's fight against al-Qaida, America has imposed a war upon Pakistan.
"But violence -- violent extremists are a threat not just to the United States but to Pakistan, as well, and indeed to the entire civilized world," he said.
While in Afghanistan, Biden said coalition forces had "largely arrested the Taliban momentum here in some very important areas," adding that Afghan forces would need to eventually take the lead to protecting their country.
Biden said the United States would provide assistance to Afghanistan beyond 2014 if the Afghan government needs and wants it. The year is the current deadline for Afghan forces to take responsibility for the country's security.