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Biden arrives in Iraq after troops pull back

BAGHDAD – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Iraq on Thursday to visit U.S. soldiers, just two days after all American combat troops withdrew from Baghdad and all of Iraq’s cities and towns.

During his visit, Biden will meet with Iraqi leaders, including President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

A White House statement said Biden will reiterate the U.S. commitment to carry out President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw combat forces. He also will press Iraqi leaders to make more progress toward political reconciliation.

Al-Maliki named the day U.S. combat troops withdrew, June 30, as “National Sovereignty Day” and declared it a public holiday.

On the same day, the White House said that Biden will oversee the administration’s Iraq policy.

In Washington, Obama said that he has always reserved the right to adjust the U.S. troop withdrawal timetable in Iraq based on changing circumstances. But he said he was confident the U.S. will be able to abide by agreements made with Iraqis.