Blasts rock Baghdad as Cheney arrives
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Monday, just days before the fifth anniversary of the war. Cheney, who last visited Baghdad in May, made Iraq the first stop of his nine-day Middle East tour that will also take him to Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, the Palestinian territories, Turkey and Oman.
According to the AP, Cheney landed at Baghdad International Airport, then flew by helicopter into the Green Zone for talks with U.S. military and diplomatic officials and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Cheney's first meeting was a classified briefing with U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq who met him at the airport. Crocker and Petraeus are scheduled to travel to Washington next month to give a status report on the war.
Meanwhile, the American Embassy in Baghdad said it could not confirm reports of a rocket attack on the Green Zone after Cheney's arrival. "I'm not aware of any," embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo said. However, a security official said one of the blasts was caused by a mortar attack on the Green Zone, home of the US embassy and the seat of Iraqi government. In other violence Monday, police said they uncovered the bodies of three members of a U.S.-allied group fighting al-Qaeda in Udaim, 70 miles north of Baghdad.