Gulf & Middle East
US vice president visits Iraq, meets al-Maliki
May 9, 2007 - 11:42:15 PM

Baghdad, May 9 - US Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in Baghdad Wednesday for an unannounced visit and meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that the latter called 'positive and serious'.

The two discussed challenges facing Iraqis in the political process and 'the achievements of the Iraqi people as a result of the support from the US as well as other countries'.

Al-Maliki said his meeting with Cheney 'put the foundation for practical steps supporting - efforts on both the security and political fronts'.

'We have realised democracy and sovereignty throughout our country,' he added.

Cheney said he talked with al-Maliki about 'a wide range of issues in Iraq and the region, focusing on matters like the Baghdad security plan, the ongoing operations against terrorists as well as the political and economic issues that were before the Iraqi government'.

Meanwhile the Sadr movement led by Shia militia leader and cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said Wednesday that large demonstrations would be staged by the movement in three Shia holy cities to protest Cheney's visit, a source from al-Sadr's office in Najaf told the independent Voices of Iraq news agency.

The movement has always opposed the presence of foreign troops in Iraq.

Al-Sadr's political movement pulled its six ministers from government in mid-April because al-Maliki refused to set a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

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