Biden makes surprise Iraq visit

Vice President Joe Biden, spending the Fourth of July in Iraq, said the U.S. withdrawal of forces from the country's major cities represents a "moment" Iraqis can be proud of.

"I think the Iraqis have become invested in their nationhood. I think they’ve become invested in the idea tha they want to run their own lives, that they want to be in charage," Biden told reporters on his way to Iraq.

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Greeted Thursday by Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari, Gen. Ray Odierno and Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby, Biden spent Friday meeting Odierno, commander of American forces in Iraq; Ambassador Christopher Hill; and representatives from Mercy Corps, the U.S. Institute of Peace and other non-government organizations.

Biden said he came to Iraq in order to focus on drawing down American troops in the country while promoting a political settlement of unresolved boundary disputes surrounding the country's oil laws. Biden will meet with leaders from the country's three main ethnic groups in order to resolve those disputes.

Biden's two-day visit begins just a day and a half after American troops stuck to a deadline for withdrawing from Iraqi cities. The withdrawal has been met by both national celebrations and increased violence. The vice president said U.S. troops leaving cities is an important moment for Iraq's future.

"This is the moment where a lot of Iraqis cynically believed we’d never keep the agreement. The first step in this agreement was pulling out of cities. Secondly there is a sense of –- understandable in my view -- of not universal but of national pride that, guess what? We can handle our own affairs," Biden told reporters aboard his plane Thursday.

Biden was spirited out of the country on Air Force 2 to Mildenhall Air Force Base, in England. There, he traded for a C-17 cargo plane with a mobile home strapped to the floor acting as his private cabin.

It is Biden's second trip to Iraq this year and his first as vice president. President Obama recently asked Biden to keep a closer eye on the situation in Iraq, acting as a sort of envoy.