Biden in Iraq to Talk Troop Withdrawal
Sadr faction wants them out on schedule in December
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2011 8:05 AM CST
US Vice President Joe Biden, center, meets with Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

(Newser) – Joe Biden arrived in Iraq for a one-day visit today, and the top topic for discussion, behind closed doors anyway, was expected to be the US’ December troop withdrawal deadline, an official tells the AP. In front of closed doors, Biden merely reiterated the US' friendship with Iraq. “The best thing that could happen to the United States, literally, is for you to be a free, prosperous democracy,” he said, before meeting with Jalal Talabani, Nouri al-Maliki, and Massoud Barzani.

It’s the first time a US official has visited since Iraq formed its new governing coalition—which includes Muqtada al-Sadr’s anti-American party. Sadr is adamant that US troops leave the country entirely by December 31, as per the current Status of Forces agreement, and Maliki has signaled that he favors that as well. But Iraq’s top general has suggested that US troops should stay to help defend the country’s borders until as late as 2020.