Biden reaffirms U.S. commitment to Iraq after withdrawal

Vice President Joe Biden spent Friday in Iraq meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and reassuring Iraq's leaders of America's commitment.

"President Obama asked me to return to Iraq with a very, very clear message: The United States is committed to Iraq's progress and Iraq's success," Biden said at a news conference alongside al-Maliki.

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"We made good on our commitments as set by President Obama to remove combat forces from Iraq by next summer as well and ultimately withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2011," Biden said.

The vice president acknowledged several bloody attacks in recent weeks but expressed confidence that Iraqi security forces, with U.S. support, would overcome sectarian forces. "Iraq's future belongs to those who are attempting to build Iraq not those who are attempting to destroy it."

Al-Maliki praised the Obama administration's actions. "I have seen very clearly the keen determination from the vice president and his administration to support Iraq on a political level and in the democratic area and a great readiness to give us or to lend anywhere we ask a lending hand and support," Maliki said. "In respect to the sovereignty of both countries, we are looking also for ways for exchange that support the interests of both parties."

In Iraq to meet with the nation's leaders and commemorate the U.S. military's recent withdrawal from Iraq's cities, spent Friday morning with his son, Beau Biden, an Army National Guard captain and attorney general of Delaware.

Prior to departing from Camp Victory to meet with Iraqi leaders, the vice president had breakfast with Beau Biden, his eldest son, according to the White House press pool's account. Capt. Biden visited the vice president in his quarters at the Army facility.

The younger Biden's unit was deployed to Iraq one month before the elder Biden won election to the vice presidency. Beau Biden is considered a potential candidate for the vice president's former Senate seat in Delaware, which is currently occupied by Ted Kaufman (D).

Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) appointed Kaufman, a former aide to Joe Biden who said he would not seek election to the seat when the current term expires. Delaware will stage a special election next year to fill the seat for a full six-year term. Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), a former governor and popular figure in Delaware politics, is weighing a bid.

Later Friday, Biden met with several Iraqi leaders in Baghdad.

"We stand ready if asked and if helpful to help" Iraqi factions reconcile their differences, Biden said, according to the White House press pool report. Al-Maliki praised "the common partnership and common efforts" between U.S. and Iraqi forces in combating al Qaeda.

Before meeting with Maliki, Biden visited Iraqi vice presidents Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Tareq al-Hashemi and the Speaker of Iraq's Parliament, Iyad Al-Samarrai.

Biden's departure from Camp Victory to Baghdad was not without incident. Sandstorms prevented Biden from traveling by helicopter, forcing military and security authorities to arrange for a motorcade, a much more dangerous method of  making the trip.

According to the pool report, President George W. Bush faced the same difficulties last year during his final visit to Iraq as president and opted to use a motorcade. When sandstorms prevented President Obama from flying to Baghdad earlier this year,-Maliki instead came to Camp Victory.