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Biden “optimistic” about Iraq

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STORY: Vice President Joe Biden on a surprise trip to Iraq met with Iraq’s Speaker of Parliament Saleem al-Jabouri and President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani.

Biden who met earlier with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, “We talked about the plans that are in store for Mosul and the coordination going on with all of our friends here, so I am very optimistic.”

It was the first visit for Biden, the White House’s point person on Iraq, since U.S. forces withdrew in 2011 after nearly nine years of occupation. He was the third and highest-level U.S. official to visit the country this month.

Islamic State, also known as ISIL, seized large portions of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. Iraqi Forces have won back some territory, such as the western city of Ramadi, but often after long battles that have left the areas destroyed.

Biden’s trip, several months in the planning, is a sign of the progress Washington believes Iraqi forces have made in beating back the militants over the past year and its hope that the northern city of Mosul can be recaptured before U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office in January.

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