Obama Gives Biden Iraq Assignment

By Lindsey Ellerson

Jun 29, 2009 5:38pm

ABC News' Karen Travers reports: In the last few weeks, President Obama quietly has added a new issue to Vice President Biden’s portfolio – Iraq. Biden will serve as a “high point of contact” in the West Wing on Iraq, a senior administration official said, taking a more active role in reaching out to Iraqi officials and serving as a go-between for American officials on the ground and the White House. The new assignment was timed to the pullout of U.S. combat forces from Iraqi cities this week but the vice president’s specific duties are still developing and the role is open-ended. White House officials were careful to define Biden’s role – he is not an envoy and this is not a full-time position. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill and Gen. Ray Odierno do not report to the vice president, but because of Biden’s foreign policy background, the president wanted him to take a more active role on Iraq policy. A senior administration official described this active role as more of a weekly check-in than day-to-day engagement. The Iraq assignment is in addition to Biden’s work heading up the Middle Class Task Force and leading the oversight efforts on the Recovery Act. While the assignment is timed to the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraqi cities, a senior administration official said it was not a direct result of the recent uptick in violence there. –Karen Travers  

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