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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Biden Meets With Iraqi Officials, a Day After Mortar Attack

By VOA News
16 September 2009

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is meeting with Iraqi officials on the second day of his visit to Baghdad, where a mortar attack killed two people shortly after his arrival Tuesday.

Biden's talks Wednesday are expected to focus on Iraq's plans to hold national parliamentary elections in January.

Earlier, the U.S. military said Iraqi and U.S. troops detained three militants suspected of carrying out Tuesday's mortar attack on Baghdad's Green Zone government district.

Iraqi police say one of four mortars fired at the Green Zone fell short and hit an apartment building, killing two civilians.

No casualties or damage were reported inside the Green Zone.

A U.S. monitoring group, SITE Intelligence Group, says an Iraqi militant faction, the Mujahideen Army, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on Islamist Web sites.

The monitors quote the Mujahideen Army as saying it fired rockets, not mortars, at the Green Zone, in what the faction called a "reception" for Biden.

On Tuesday, Biden said a successful vote in Iraq's parliamentary election is necessary for Iraq to resolve political differences between its Kurdish, Shi'ite and Sunni communities.

Biden also said Iraq is "likely" to hold a national referendum on its security pact with the United States early next year. The pact, which took effect at the start of this year, calls for all U.S. forces to leave the country by the end of 2011.

Biden met Tuesday with the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno. The vice president said Odierno is optimistic that Iraqi forces will be able to control security when the U.S. military completes a phased pullout of combat forces from Iraq by August 2010.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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