Baghdad, Iraq (AP) --
Vice President Joe Biden has arrived in Baghdad to preside over a ceremony marking the formal end to U.S. combat operations in Iraq.
The upcoming September 1 ceremony signals a shift toward a greater U.S. diplomatic role as the military mission dwindles seven years after
the American invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Biden also plans to push for Iraqi leaders to end their
political stalemate and form a new government. Parliamentary
elections nearly six months ago left Iraq without a clear winner.
The Obama administration had set an Aug. 31 deadline for cutting
back U.S. troop numbers to 50,000 from a high of 170,000 at the
height of the war in 2007. All U.S. troops are to leave Iraq by the
end of 2011.