MESOP REPORT : US Vice President Biden on surprise visit to Iraq – President Joe Biden arrived in Baghdad for an unannounced visit to Iraq

BAGHDAD (AFP) – 29 Apr 2016 – US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Baghdad Thursday for an unannounced visit to Iraq, whose leadership is bogged down in a protracted political crisis even as its forces battle jihadists.”The vice president has arrived in Iraq for meetings with (the) Iraqi leadership focused on encouraging Iraqi national unity and continued momentum in the fight against ISIL,” a statement from Biden’s office said, using an acronym for the Islamic State jihadist group.”The vice president will also be discussing steps the international community can take to promote Iraq’s economic stability and further regional cooperation,” the statement said.

It is the highest-ranking visit by a US official to Iraq since Biden went there in 2011.

With the US election campaign in full swing and President Barack Obama due to step down after two terms, Biden’s visit is also likely to be his last to Iraq as vice president.”The vice president has been the point person on Iraq for the administration since the beginning,” a US official told reporters on Biden’s plane.”He’s been itching to get back for a while — looking for an opportunity. This seemed like a good moment to do it,” the official said.  –