Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Iraq for surprise visit

Joe Biden
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, talks as he holds a meeting with Turkish civil society groups on first day of his visit to Turkey, in Istanbul, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. (Murad Sezer/Pool Photo via AP)

BAGHDAD (NBC NEWS) — Vice President Joe Biden has arrived in Iraq for a visit intended to help resolve a political crisis that’s hindering efforts to defeat the Islamic State group.

Biden flew overnight from Washington to the Iraqi capital overnight. The White House isn’t publicly disclosing his itinerary due to security concerns, but Biden is expected to meet with Iraqi leaders.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (HY’-dahr ahl ah-BAH’-dee) is struggling to deliver on reforms pressed by protesters who are angry about corruption and political patronage. Al-Abadi has tried to appease critics but faces opposition from Iraq’s entrenched political groups.

The Obama administration this month agreed to send 200 more troops and Apache helicopters for the fight against IS. But the political turmoil has become a distraction and diverted critical resources.

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