Biden calls Iraqi prime minister after reports of renewed sectarian tensions

Vice President Biden spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi on Tuesday, as sectarian tensions in the country rose after U.S. troops pulled out Sunday.

An arrest warrant was issued Monday for Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni, who then accused al-Maliki, a Shiite, of issuing “fabricated charges.”

The dust-up has raised concerns that the Sunni-Shiite relations will unravel in Iraq without U.S. troops there to keep the peace.

Republican senators hammered President Obama on Tuesday for allowing U.S. troops to leave, blaming the renewed tensions on the lack of a U.S. deterrent. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called for the administration to re-open negotiations for a small U.S. military presence in Iraq.

Biden told the Iraqi leaders Tuesday that the United States was monitoring the situation closely, according to a White House readout of the call.

The vice president emphasized the need for an “inclusive partnership government” and the importance of acting within the Iraqi constitution. He stressed the need for the prime minister and leaders of the other major blocs to meet and work out their differences.