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Daily Column
US Papers Sat: Biden Warns of Ending Commitment
France Hopes to Jump-Start Its Arms Sales With Iraq, A War's Young Witness
By DANIEL W. SMITH 07/04/2009 02:00 AM ET
Biden says that it is the going gets tough, the Americans will get going.
Also, France ratchets up efforts to get arms/training/reconstruction contracts in Iraq, and a young diarist in Baghdad has chronicled growing up in conflict.

From Baghdad
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told Iraqi leaders on Friday that he and President Obama were committed to helping them resolve their political differences, but not if sectarian violence returned, “because one, the American people would have no interest in doing that, and as he put it, neither would he or the president.” He added that there "wasn't any appetite to put Humpty Dumpty back together again if, by the action of people in Iraq, it fell apart." (-not sure how that translated on Iraqi news).

Nada Bakri of the Washington Post has the most indicators of how the meetings are going, and of Iraqi reaction, including resentment over the ongoing US “surprise visits” which seem strange and disrespectful to many Iraqis.
Even the interaction of officials seems to have changed. Early Friday, Biden's aides huddled with advisers to Ayad al-Samarraie, the speaker of Iraq's parliament, trying to figure out a time the two men could meet. An aide to Samarraie told the vice president's staff that the speaker had no more than 30 minutes to spare for the meeting. "That is the best I can do," the aide said in a conversation overheard at a presidential palace, as workers vainly tried to clean the aftermath of a sandstorm that has buffeted Baghdad for almost a week.

Some lawmakers were irritated by the secretive nature of Biden's visit. "They have to treat Iraq as a sovereign country," lawmaker Mahmoud Othman said. "They should have let us know, and they should be welcomed like any other leader."
Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times underscores a big challenge which remains, working into the story a shootout on Friday which occurred when Iraqi police officers in still-violent Diyala Province engaged in a shootout when they tried to arrest some men at a wedding.
The groom at the wedding was a bodyguard for one of Iraq’s two vice presidents, Tariq al-Hashimi, who was among the officials who met with Mr. Biden on Friday. Police officers arrived at the wedding with a warrant for one of the guests, and they were fired upon, said Talal al-Jubori, the deputy governor of Diyala.

The officers returned gunfire, killing four people, and arrested 10 men, Mr. Jubori said. But his account was contradicted by a police spokesman, Maj. Galeb al-Karkhi, who said that two people had been killed and that the police were investigating the shooting.
On the front page of the Washington Post, Anthony Shadid writes of a quiet, contemplative young female diary writer in Baghdad, who was 13 when Baghdad fell in 2003 and is now 20. Shadid delves into Amal’s entries, and what the say about the author and the author’s country. Her family is featured, and their interaction provides interesting insight, when combined with some of her prose.

"I have a rule," she wrote in an entry six years after the suqut (the “collapse”). "Let's live 10 days in grief, 10 days in joy. If we laughed more than necessary, then we should cry. Joy and grief, the laugh and the tear are always together, inseparable from each other."

Franco-Iraqi Deals
Also in the Washington Post, Edward Cody reports from Paris that during a visit by French Prime Minister François Fillon, Iraq has concluded a tentative military sales and training agreement with France, and of efforts to win extensive construction contracts. Details of the deal haven’t yet been released.
At stake, specialists here said, are billions of dollars in potential arms sales and training contracts as the Iraqi military seeks to rebuild from the devastation wrought by U.N. sanctions and then by U.S. forces as they took over the country, destroyed Hussein's Sunni-led military establishment and set up a new order dominated by the Shiite majority.
"I think there is indeed a window of opportunity to sell non-American military equipment," said Jean-Pierre Maulny, a military expert at France's International and Strategic Relations Institute. "I think the sentiment today is to not look like they're in the hands of the Americans only."

Christian Science Monitor, no Iraq coverage.

USA Today, Wall Street Journal, no Saturday, Holiday Editions.

Comments on the US Papers roundup are welcome at


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