Britain’s Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State have made a surprise visit to Iraq.
The pair travelled from Jack Straw’s Blackburn constituency in north-west England where he played host to Condoleezza Rice over the last two days. They met with the Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and President Jalal Talabani. It comes as Iraqi politicians struggle to form a government of national unity which has been blocked by Jaafari’s refusal to heed growing calls to step down. He has failed to win the support of minority Kurds and Sunnis and now faces opposition within his own Shi’ite alliance. The delay in forming a government is thought to be partly responsible for fuelling the increasing sectarian violence which has struck Iraq since last month’s bombing of a key Shia shrine at Samarra.