Vice President Biden arrived in Baghdad today for a surprise visit as U.S. troops prepare to pull out of Iraq by the end of the year. During his two day trip – his eighth visit to Iraq as Vice President - Biden will spend time with troops and meet with Iraqi leaders to mark the end of the war.
The Vice President said today that “it’s good to be back” in Iraq. “It’s good to be back for this purpose,” Biden said shortly after his arrival.
According to the White House, Biden will meet with the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, and other political leaders. The Vice President will also deliver remarks at an event to commemorate the sacrifices and accomplishments of U.S. and Iraqi troops.
“Over nearly three years in office, the Administration has kept its promises on Iraq. American forces withdrew from Iraq’s cities in July 2009… On October 21st, President Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki agreed that it was in the best interests of both the United States and Iraq to draw down U.S. forces by the end of 2011 and embark on a new phase in our relationship-a long-term strategic partnership across a range of sectors,” the White House said in a statement.
“Now, pursuant to the U.S-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement, we are deepening our cooperation on politics and diplomacy; trade and finance; energy; services, technology, the environment, and transportation; law enforcement and the judiciary; and defense and security. This week’s meeting of the Higher Coordinating Committee in Baghdad will address and enhance our joint efforts on each of these important policy areas,” the White House said.
The Vice President’s trip was kept a secret until his arrival for security purposes. Biden departed from Andrews Air Force Base Monday on Air Force 2. After refueling at Ramstein Air Base in Germany and transferring to a C-17 military aircraft for the final five hour leg, the Vice President, wearing a brown leather jacket, stepped off the plane in Baghdad this morning and was greeted by General Lloyd Austin and Ambassador James Jeffrey.