U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Baghdad, pledging
America's support for Iraq as the country deals with a recent surge in
Clinton arrived in Iraq unannounced Saturday for her first trip to the country as the top U.S. diplomat.
At a town hall meeting with about 150 Iraqi citizens at the U.S.
embassy, Clinton appealed for national unity and said only Iraqis could
ensure their country's long-term stability.
She also said the United States will continue to work closely with the
Iraqi government and security forces as it withdraws its combat troops.
Clinton met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President
Jalal Talabani, as well as other Iraqi officials, top U.S. military
commanders and the newly arrived U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christopher
In the last two days, two suicide bombings have killed more than 150
people. Clinton told reporters the violence is a sign that extremists
"fear that Iraq is going in the right direction."
The upsurge in violence also coincides with the planned withdrawal of
U.S. forces from Iraqi cities by the end of June, and preparations for
Iraqi elections later this year.
The two deadliest suicide attacks -- Thursday in Diyala province and
Friday at a Shi'ite shrine in Baghdad -- killed mostly Shi'ite
worshipers, including Iranian pilgrims.
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, although Sunni
Muslim extremists have attacked the Shi'ite shrine in northern Baghdad
Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed American forces
in Iraq for the Iranian deaths. In an address reported by Iranian state
media, Ayatollah Khamenei said the U.S. military presence in Iraq has
incited extremist violence.