ABC News' Sunlen Miller and Richard Coolidge report: Marking this week’s end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq, Vice President Joe Biden made his fifth trip to the country as vice president, landing in Baghdad late this morning.
The vice president is to participate in a Change of Command and Change of Mission Ceremony on Wednesday, the White House said, to note the changing U.S. role in the country, as U.S. combat troops prepare to the leave Iraq.
While in Baghdad, the vice president will also hold several meetings with senior Iraqi government officials and other political leaders, “to discuss the latest developments in Iraq and to urge Iraqi leaders to conclude negotiations on the formation of a new government,” the White House said in a statement.
Biden is anticipated to meet with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, Vice President Adil Abd al-Mahdi, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, leader of the Iraqiyya coalition Ayad Allawi, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council Ammar al-Hakim and other political leaders.
After flying in secrecy overnight, Biden was greeted at Ramstein Air Base by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Jim Jeffrey, Gen. Ray Odierno, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
Biden made one additional trip prior to being sworn in as vice president, in January 2009.
On Tuesday President Obama will travel to Fort Bliss in Texas to thank troops and then will deliver a prime-time address to the nation that evening to mark the end of the U.S. combat mission in the country.
– Sunlen Miller and Richard Coolidge