BAGHDAD— Vice President Joe Biden visited troops in Iraq on Thursday in an unannounced visit and said the U.S. has sent its troops abroad to keep the peace in places where history has led people to create artificial states based on artificial lines made up of distinct ethnic and religious groups. He said the world has told them, “Have at it.”
Biden was alluding to deep sectarian tensions in Iraq as he thanked U.S. military and diplomatic personnel working in the country. He said their courage sends a message to everyone else.
He cited a line from Ulysses by James Joyce. Biden said the history of the Mideast region is a nightmare from which everyone is trying to awake.
The vice president noted his late son Beau Biden’s service in Iraq. Beau Biden last year from brain cancer. Biden’s other son, Hunter, is with him in Iraq.
Vice President Joe Biden said the U.S. and Iraq are making “real progress” against the Islamic State group.
Biden met with Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri during an unannounced visit to Iraq. He said the progress is serious and the U.S. remains committed.
Al-Jabouri, a Sunni leader, is under pressure from lawmakers to resign amid a political crisis fueled by protesters angry over corruption and mismanagement.
Biden said his meeting earlier Thursday with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi focused on planning for operations to retake the key northern city of Mosul from IS extremists.
President Barack Obama has predicted Mosul will be in position to eventually fall by the end of the year. U.S. officials say progress is likely to slow during the hot summer months and that the recapture could take a long time.
Vice President Joe Biden met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss resolving Iraq’s political crisis.
The meeting was Biden’s first stop after arriving in Iraq on an unannounced trip Thursday. Biden will also meet with other leaders and U.S. personnel in Iraq.
Biden and al-Abadi exchanged greetings as they and their delegations sat down at a government palace in Baghdad. Al-Abadi was heard speaking in English without assistance from a translator as reporters were allowed in briefly for the start of the meeting.
He and Biden met at the late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s Republican Palace, inside the heavily fortified Green Zone. The grandiose palace served as U.S. headquarters in Baghdad after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 until the U.S. opened a new embassy.