Suicide bomber strikes ahead of Biden visit to Iraq

Suicide bomber strikes ahead of Biden visit to Iraq

Two people have been killed and seven injured, some critically, after a suicide bomber blew herself up in a Governor's compound in Iraq's western Anbar Province.

It coincides with US Vice-President Joe Biden's visit to Baghdad.

The bomb was detonated in the reception area of the heavily fortified compound in Ramadi.

The two Iraqi leaders vying to become the nation’s next prime minister will get personal pleas today from Biden to end their rivalry that has delayed the seating of a new government.

Biden, the Obama administration’s point man on Iraq issues, will discuss the stalled politics in separate meetings with prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and his chief challenger, former premier Ayad Allawi.

Iraqi politicians have been bickering since the March 7 parliamentary election that left the country without a clear winner about who should have the right to form the next government.

Al-Maliki and Allawi have largely been driving the delays as each tries to outmanoeuvre the other for a majority share of support in parliament.

The Shia prime minister’s State of Law coalition narrowly lost out to Allawi’s Sunni-backed Iraqiya alliance during the election, 89 seats to 91. But both fell far short of the 163-seat majority needed to govern outright.

Al-Maliki’s coalition appeared to gain an advantage after the election by joining forces with the Iranian-backed Iraqi National Alliance to form a super-Shia coalition.

But even that partnership has been stalled by its inability to decide who will be its pick for the post of prime minister.

Biden was meeting this afternoon with Allawi, and later with al-Maliki.

But aides said yesterday that the vice-president believes the new government - whoever becomes prime minister – must represent all sides to avoid touching off sectarian tensions that could destabilise Iraq.

Biden arrived in Baghdad last night for the long July 4 weekend, his second visit to Iraq so far this year and the fifth since he was elected vice-president in 2008.

He will also meet with US troops in a ceremony during which a number of soldiers who have been serving with the American military will be sworn in as US citizens.

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