US Vice-President Cheney, Republican nominee McCain in Iraq

March 17th, 2008 - 7:14 pm ICT by admin  

Baghdad, March 17 (DPA) US Vice-President Dick Cheney and Republican presidential candidate John McCain, two staunch supporters of US troop build-up in Iraq, were here Monday on the fifth anniversary of the US-led war. Cheney, one of the architects of the war, arrived Monday, a day after McCain held talks in Baghdad as part of a Senate Armed Services Committee fact-finding mission.

McCain met Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Monday morning, the official al-Iraqiya television said.

No further details about the talks were immediately available.

The Arizona Senator, the Republican Party’s choice for November’s presidential election, said ahead of his Iraq trip that insurgents in the country might try to influence the US election by stepping up their campaign of violence.

On his arrival in Baghdad, Cheney was met by the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus.

The vice-president was expected to meet US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Iraqi leaders in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, according to the US embassy in Baghdad.

Cheney, whose last visit to Iraq was in May 2007, made Baghdad his first leg of a 10-day regional tour instead of Oman after a sudden change in the schedule.

During the regional tour, which will also include Saudi Arabia, Israel, the West Bank and Turkey, he will seek to enlist Arab support for US policy in Iraq.

He was expected to ask the Saudis to open their embassy in Iraq.

Both Cheney and McCain are staunch supporters of the US troop surge, which is credited with a decrease in violence in Baghdad and surrounding areas.

However, a wave of deadly bombings since January, which were blamed mainly on Sunni extremist insurgents linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist network, have led many US generals to admit that the network was still the biggest threat to stability in Iraq.

Petraeus and Crocker will give a new assessment of the situation in Iraq to US President George W. Bush.

Cheney was also expected to discuss stalled legislation, such as the oil and gas law, and stumbling national reconciliation efforts with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister al-Maliki.

The US has set benchmarks for progress made in Iraq, including reconciliation of the country’s Sunni and Shiite Arabs.

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