Vice President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks during a photo-op as he meets with President Barack Obama for lunch in the Private Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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Vice President Joe Biden spoke on Wednesday for a second time this week to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, voicing support for the Baghdad government's effort to regain control of the city of Fallujah from al-Qaida-linked fighters.The White House said Biden encouraged al-Maliki to continue talks with local, tribal and national leaders and said Biden welcomed al-Maliki's affirmation Wednesday that Iraqi elections will occur as scheduled in April. Hagel was asked whether U.S. forces were killed and wounded in Fallujah in vain.On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry encouraged the Iraqi government to continue efforts to empower local officials and tribes to isolate the al-Qaida fighters and drive them out of populated areas.
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