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US Vice President Visits Iraq


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is in Iraq for an unannounced visit with U.S. troops and to meet with Iraqi officials.

In remarks to reporters Saturday, Biden spoke about the failure of Iraqi politicians to form a new government. He said he is optimistic that a representative government will be formed.

The White House says Biden will celebrate the July 4 anniversary of U.S. independence with the troops. Biden also will reaffirm the U.S. long-term commitment to Iraq and "discuss recent developments" in the country with Iraqi officials.

Biden will meet with political leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani. They are expected to discuss Iraq's election deadlock. The country has been hit by a wave of violence since March parliamentary elections failed to determine a clear majority.

Officials fear insurgents may be taking advantage of the political impasse to try to derail security plans. Also, the unrest could have an impact on the U.S. timetable for withdrawing its forces from Iraq.

U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered the withdrawal of all combat forces by September, with 50,000 troops to remain. Under a security agreement, all U.S. troops must pull out by the end of 2011.

Biden was greeted at the airport by a delegation that included U.S. Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, along with independent Senator Joe Lieberman. The three lawmakers arrived Friday for separate meetings with Iraqi officials.

Biden last visited Iraq in January.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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