In a show of good faith, Vice President Joe Biden flew to Baghdad Thursday evening on his unprecedented three-day visit. Typically, a high-level official – like Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney – only remains in the country for a day or less, so the trip is unusually long. But Biden said this is “the moment where a lot of Iraqis cynically believed we’d never keep the agreement” – to withdraw all combat troops by August 2010 and all U.S. soldiers by the end of 2011.

Anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has said that the withdrawal pledge has left him “filled with hope,” but he added, “If the occupation forces breach the claimed withdrawal even with the government’s cover, then the people have the right to express their opinion by peaceful means and the right of self-defense in a way that does not harm the Iraqi people or security forces.”

On the flight over, the U.S. Vice President told reporters, “I think the Iraqis have become invested in their nationhood. I think they’ve become invested in the idea that they want to run their own lives, that they want to be in charge. The reason I came is [President Barack Obama] wants to focus within the White House on the implementation of our administration’s plan to…. draw down troop levels in Iraq.” Continue reading here…

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