BAGHDAD — Vice President Joe Biden spent the Fourth of July with his son and other American troops in Iraq on Saturday, while the Iraqi government spokesman publicly rejected the American's offer to help with national reconciliation, saying it's an internal affair.
Biden presided over a naturalization ceremony for 237 U.S. troops from 59 countries in a marble rotunda at one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces at what is now Camp Victory, the U.S. military headquarters on the western outskirts of Baghdad.
He then had lunch with the 261st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade from Delaware, to which his son belongs. Beau Biden stood in the back as his father greeted the troops. Biden recounted the story of the swearing-in using his usual colorful language. "We did it in Saddam's palace, and I can think of nothing better," he said. "That SOB is rolling over in his grave right now."
On Friday, Biden appealed to Iraqis to do more to bring the country's deeply divided factions together, and warned that U.S. assistance may not be forthcoming if the country reverts to ethnic and sectarian violence.
In a retort Saturday on Iraqi state TV, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said, "The political situation won't accept that the United States intervenes in an internal issue, whether that issue is reconciliation, relations between various Iraqi groups or between the (self-ruled Kurdish) region and Baghdad."
Arms sales: France, which opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and stayed aloof from the coalition of allies that assisted the United States during the bloody occupation that followed, is reviving its once-flourishing arms sales and training relationship with the Iraqi government. The French military sales effort has resulted in a $500 million deal for 24 Eurocopter EC-635 light transport and reconnaissance helicopters. The French Defense Ministry has also proposed selling 18 modernized Mirage F-1 warplanes and another batch of helicopters.
Information from the Los Angeles Times was used in this report.