Rice Visits Iraq, Looks to Bolster PM Maliki
Sec says assault on Basra pushed fractious country toward unity
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2008 9:51 AM CDT
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 15, 2008, before the House Armed Services Committee.    (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Condoleezza Rice paid an unannounced visit to Baghdad today to highlight recent political gains brought about by PM Nouri al-Maliki's government. While the Maliki-ordered assault on Basra last month exposed some weaknesses in the Iraqi army, it also brought different groups in Iraq together, she said. "This is, I think, an important time. You've seen a coalescing of a center in Iraqi politics," Rice said.

"There are those who questioned whether or not the prime minister was prepared to go after militias that were associated one way or another with political elements in his coalition," Rice said, "I think he's answering that question." Rice met with PM Maliki, as well as with David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, reports the AP.