Iraq’s escalating insurgency topped the agenda during a surprise visit by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to the country. The country is going through an upsurge in violence and security for the visit was especially tight. Rice, who is the most senior US official to travel to Iraq since the recent formation of the new government, held talks with the Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari.
In addition to security they were expected to discuss reconstruction efforts and plans for a major international conference in June. Earlier, in the northern city of Arbil, she met Kurdish leader Massoud Barzouni. Iraq’s government was formed only after disagreements among the various parties were overcome. Rice said she wanted to help move the political process forward.