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Biden Makes Surprise Visit To Baghdad, Iraq's Kurdistan Region

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has made an unannounced visit to Baghdad as well as Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region for talks on the country's political crisis and the fight against the extremist Islamic State (IS) group.

Biden met in Baghdad on April 28 with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, parliament speaker Salim al-Jaburi, and other officials.

Biden said the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi forces are making "real progress" against IS fighters.

He said his meeting with Abadi focused on planning operations for retaking the northern city of Mosul, which was captured by IS forces in 2015.

"The vice president has arrived in Iraq for meetings with Iraqi leadership focused on encouraging Iraqi national unity and continued momentum in the fight against ISIL," a Biden spokesman said, using another acronym for Islamic State.

The White House did not say what Biden plans to do in Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region, where he flew after Baghdad.

Iraq has been embroiled in a political dispute in recent months over the formation of a new government made up of technocrats and the issue has led to a series of pro-reform protests involving thousands of demonstrators.

IS forces still control parts of northern and western Iraq.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa

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