Biden Tells Iraqis to Mend Fences —Like, Now

VP urges Maliki to strengthen coalition with Kurds, Sunnis
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2011 2:32 PM CST
Joe Biden Urges Iraqi Leaders to Mend Sectarian Tensions
Vice President Joe Biden makes a phone call on a train at Union Station in Washington, DC.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Joe Biden called Iraqi officials today, urging them to calm rising sectarian tensions after a bombing killed at least 63 people there earlier this week, the AP reports. Biden and other US officials have been phoning Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as well as Sunni and Kurdish leaders all week, asking them to "stop hurling accusations at each other through the media and actually sit together and work through your competing concerns,” a White House official tells the New York Times.

For leverage, Washington is reminding Maliki that his ability to create a coalition will "color" US economic, security, and diplomatic relations with Iraq. The US also has F-16 warplanes that Iraq wants to buy. But even with John McCain criticizing President Obama over the pullout, and experts warning that Iraq could devolve into civil war, Washington says US troops are staying out. “There is not a great deal of appetite for re-engagement," says one official. "We are not going to reinvade Iraq." (More Joe Biden stories.)

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