Biden meeting with Iraqi leaders

Nov. 29, 2011 at 4:10 PM
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BAGHDAD, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Iraq Tuesday to meet with the country's leaders less than a month before American troops pull out of the country.

Biden was to meet in Baghdad with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani and other Iraqi officials, and to thank U.S. and Iraqi troops.

The vice president, whose visit was unannounced for security reasons, comes ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline for the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.

The United States ended its combat mission in the country Aug. 31, 2010, when it reduced the number of troops to fewer than 50,000 from about 144,000 in January 2009.

During that span, a White House official noted, violence in Iraq has remained at its lowest level since 2003.

As part of the U.S-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement, the two countries are to strengthen cooperation on politics and diplomacy, trade and finance, energy services, technology, the environment, transportation, law enforcement, the judiciary, defense and security.

A meeting co-chaired by Biden, the Higher Coordinating Committee in Baghdad, will focus on such joint efforts and policy issues.

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