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Biden arrives in Iraq for Independence Day, meetings

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Joe and Jill Biden arrive in Iraq
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Vice president, wife arrive for holiday weekend visit
  • Joe Biden to meet with politicians in and out of power
  • Jill Biden to meet with Iraqi teachers of English
  • 77,500 U.S. troops in Iraq; more than 20,000 due to leave by September
RELATED TOPICS
  • Iraq
  • Joe Biden
  • Jill Biden

(CNN) -- Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Iraq with his wife Saturday to celebrate the Fourth of July with American troops, the White House said.

Biden is expected to also meet with Iraqi political leaders, including Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. He will also meet with former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, whose political coalition narrowly won an election in March. Political factions are still negotiating who will hold key posts in the new government.

The vice president and Jill Biden will attend a naturalization ceremony for members of the armed forces, and will participate in a Fourth of July event for Iraqi officials, the White House said.

Jill Biden will attend several Fourth of July activities, meet with civilian embassy officials and participate in a teacher training roundtable with Iraqi women who teach English in Baghdad, the White House said.

The Bidens' visit comes ahead of an August 31 deadline for an American troop drawdown in Iraq. As of Thursday, there were 77,500 U.S. troops in Iraq. By September 1, that number is supposed to come down to 50,000.