BAGHDAD: US Vice President Joe Biden opened talks in Baghdad on Thursday on an unannounced visit to Iraq, whose leadership is bogged down in a protracted political crisis even as its forces battle militants.
“The vice president has arrived in Iraq for meetings with (the) Iraqi leadership focused on encouraging Iraqi national unity and continued momentum in the fight against ISIL,” a statement from Biden’s office said, using an acronym for the militant Islamic State (IS) group.
Biden went into a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi shortly after stepping off the C-17 military transport plane that flew him to Baghdad.
Abadi discussed political, security and economic developments with Biden, the premier’s office said.
Biden’s visit comes at a time of political turmoil which has seen Iraq’s fractious political class squabble over Abadi’s efforts to replace the current government of party-affiliated ministers with a cabinet of technocrats.
Opposition to Abadi’s US-backed reform drive has sparked chaos in parliament, with lawmakers brawling in parliament, staging a sit-in and throwing water bottles towards the premier.
Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2016