Vice President Dick Cheney met with top US officials in Iraq on Wednesday, after arriving unannounced in the country in the morning.
He is scheduled to meet with Iraqi leaders for much of the rest of the day.
The VP, stopping over in Iraq before a regional tour of four US-allied Arab capitals, was briefed by the top US commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, according to the Associated Press.
Crocker traveled with the vice president from Washington.
Cheney is also slated to hold a full-day meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Iraqi Vice Presidents Adel abd al-Mahdi and Tariq al-Hashemi, and other Iraqi government officials, the AP reports.
The vice president is scheduled to lunch with PM Nuri al-Maliki and other Iraqi officials, and then share dinner with them at the U.S. Embassy, the AP reports.
The AP adds that the vice president is also slated to meet with leaders of other key political factions and organizations, although these leaders are not named in the agency’s report.
Cheney also intends to visit US forces, CNN reports.
Iraq was a surprise first stop on the vice president’s tour of the region, which will include meetings in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.
The VP’s visit to Iraq, according to his aides, is intended to get a sense of the situation “on the ground” in the country, and to press Iraqi leaders on key US political issues such as national reconciliation and legislative action. According to the Associated Press, Cheney will stress that the Iraq conflict will not be solved by military force alone.
The AP cites an anonymous “senior administration official” who says that the vice president’s message to Iraqi leaders will be: "We've all got challenges together. We've got to pull together. We've got to get this work done. It's game time."
The White House, in a statement, said that, the President Bush sent the vice president to the region to discuss "key issues of mutual interests.” The VP's regional tour follows Condoleezza Rice's attendance of the two-day regional conference on Iraq in Egypt's Sharm al-Shaykh,
Cheney’s visit also follows a video link between the President Bush and Iraqi PM Maliki, in which Bush was said to have raised similar demands for progress in the areas of national reconciliation and legislative action.
Bush also placed a telephone call to Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi over the weekend after al-Hashemi threatened to remove his 44-seat bloc of Sunni Arab legislators from the political process.
Amb. Crocker said that the vice president would also likely raise the US request that the Iraqi parliament not take a long recess during the summer, the AP reports.