Biden Has Tricky Balancing Act on Iraq Visit

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2009 6:33 PM CDT
Vice President Joe Biden in a June 23 file photo.   (AP Photo/Madalyn Ruggiero)
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(Newser) – High-level officials of Joe Biden's caliber usually stay in places like Iraq for a few hours, max. Biden, however, is now gearing up for the second day of his surprise visit. No wonder: In his new role as a sort of unofficial envoy to the nation, Biden has no small task as he tries to prod Iraqi officials to resolve internal fights over how to share power and oil revenues, the New York Times reports.

The secret trip, just days after US troops pulled out of Iraqi cities, is evidence of just how nervous the White House is about the prospects of a smooth transition. The vice president said he's there to ask in person, “What is their plan to resolve the real differences that exist?” To complicate matters, he arrives amid changing US-Iraqi relations. President Obama has taken a frostier tone toward PM Nouri al-Maliki than George Bush, who conducted regular video conference calls with him.