As recent bloodshed raises fears of renewed sectarian violence in Iraq, U.S. Vice President Biden has been calling Iraqi leaders in an apparent attempt to soothe political tensions, the White House said Saturday.
Biden telephoned Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama Nujaifi on Saturday and, a day earlier, spoke with Dr. Ayad Allawi, a leader of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya political bloc.
"The two Iraqi leaders described deliberations under way among all Iraqi political factions and parties in the run-up to a proposed national conference led by President Jalal Talabani," the White House statement said. "The vice president discussed with both leaders the importance of resolving outstanding issues through the political process. The vice president and Iraqi leaders agreed to stay in close touch as events unfold."
In the latest in a series of attacks this year, a suicide car bomber killed at least 31 people and injured 60 more in a Shiite funeral procession in Baghdad on Friday, two police officials said. The bombing occurred as mourners were heading toward a hospital in Baghdad's Zafarniya district to recover the bodies of relatives shot the night before, officials said.