Biden calls Iraqi PM for second time amid violence

Vice President Biden spoke to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki by phone Wednesday, the second time in three days the world leaders had spoken amid escalating violence in Iraq.

According to the White House, the Iraqi Prime Minister updated Biden on a new agreement struck by Iraq's military and tribal leaders intended to drive out al Qaeda rebels in the Anbar province.

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On Wednesday, Al Jazeera reported that the Iraqi military had agreed to withdraw from the outskirts of Fallujah and Ramadi and to move to the outskirts of Anbar. In exchange, tribal forces and local police would move to retake police checkpoints and government buildings in the war-torn city.

The White House said Biden also applauded Iraq's announcement that it would continue with elections as scheduled, as well as Maliki's statement that humanitarian aid would reach those in need. Aid groups in the region have reported that tens of thousands of Iraqis have fled Fallujah in recent days amid the fighting.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the White House believed that the only way to turn back al Qaeda fighters in the region "is through strong coordination between the government of Iraq and local Sunni tribes and officials, who are essential in this effort."

 

"I think there's no question, despite the divisions in Iraq, that the vast, vast majority of Iraq's citizens reject the extremism that al Qaeda represents," Carney said. "And that's why we're having the conversations at very high levels with Iraq’s leaders about the need to work together."

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