Mortar rounds exploded near the US Embassy in downtown Baghdad today during a surprise visit by Joe Biden, the New York Times reports. The vice president was inside the embassy compound when two mortars struck apartment buildings across the street. Two more rounds landed near the compound but didn’t explode, the AP notes. No word yet on casualties, and Biden's whereabouts are being kept secret for security reasons.
The VP is in Iraq for two days of meetings with the country’s leaders, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Kurdish leaders. The meetings will address political issues ahead of national elections scheduled for Jan. 16, as well as growing tensions between the national government and Kurdish authorities.