Biden urges rival Iraqis to settle on leadership
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.”