Bi­den urges ri­val Iraqis to set­tle on lead­er­ship

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION -

BAGHDAD — Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den urged ri­val Iraqi politi­cians Sun­day to end months of de­lays and se­lect new lead­ers for their wob­bly democ­racy, pre­dict­ing a peace­ful tran­si­tion of power even as sui­cide bombers struck govern­ment cen­ters in two ma­jor cities.

Four peo­ple were killed and 25 in­jured in the two blasts in Mo­sul and Ra­madi. The twin ex­plo­sions on the Fourth of July il­lus­trated the vex­ing na­ture of the U.S. in­volve­ment in Iraq and its ef­forts to nudge the coun­try to­ward sta­bil­ity and democ­racy.

At least five mor­tar rounds fell in the Green Zone late Sun­day when Bi­den was there, said Iraqi po­lice of­fi­cials. The Green Zone is the sprawl­ing pro­tected area in the heart of Baghdad that is home to the U.S. Em­bassy as well as the Iraqi par­lia­ment and prime min­is­ter’s of­fice.

There were no re­ported ca­su­al­ties, said the of­fi­cials, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

On his fifth trip to Iraq since he was elected, Bi­den sat down sep­a­rately with Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Ma­liki, a Shi­ite who is strug­gling to keep his job af­ter his party lost the March 7 elec­tion, and his chief chal­lenger, Ayad Allawi.

Bi­den made clear that a govern­ment that does not rep­re­sent all sides — no mat­ter who leads it — will fall short of a thriv­ing democ­racy.

“All are go­ing to have to play a mean­ing­ful role in this new govern­ment in or­der for it to work,” Bi­den told Iraqi lead­ers. “My plea to you is: Fin­ish what you started.”

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