Biden Travels To Iraq To Mark End Of U.S. Combat Mission

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staphni
Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Iraq on Monday to participate in a ceremony marking the end of the U.S. combat mission there, according to the White House. He was greeted in Baghdad by U.S. Ambassador Jim Jeffrey, outgoing U.S. commander Gen. Ray Odierno and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. While in the country, Biden will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, Vice President Adil Abd al-Mahdi and other political leaders "to discuss the latest developments in Iraq and to urge Iraqi leaders to conclude negotiations on the formation of a new government," the White House said in a written statement. The United States' official combat mission in Iraq is scheduled to conclude on Tuesday. Roughly 50,000 troops, however, will remain in the country until the end of 2011. Their mission will be to train, assist and advise the Iraqis. President Obama is scheduled to deliver an Oval Office address on the seven-year Iraqi conflict on Tuesday night. "As a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war. As president, that is what I am doing," Obama said Saturday in his weekly address. "The bottom line is this: The war is ending. Like any sovereign, independent nation, Iraq is free to chart its own course. And by the end of next year, all of our troops will be home," the president added. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, is also expected is address the war in Iraq on Tuesday. Boehner will remind an American Legion audience in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that Obama and other Democratic leaders opposed former President George W. Bush's troop surge there, according to a Boehner aide. While administration officials have touted what they claim is a gradual decline in the overall level of violence in Iraq, the country has recently been the target of a series of attacks. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned Friday of the likelihood of continuing attacks across the country and put all local go