President Obama is giving Vice President Biden a larger portfolio to handle, asking him to oversee reconciliation inside Iraq, but Biden will not be a mediator between factions.
"I think he will be involved in working with Shia, Sunni and Kurd to achieve political reconciliation. I would hesitate to use the term 'mediator,' " White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at Tuesday's briefing. "Somebody who I think can oversee that we are making progress, that our attention and our resources are matched by what we see needs to happen. I think that he's well suited to do that."
The new responsibilities for Biden will include the Vice President working with the head commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, as well as members of Congress and Iraqis themselves, in order to overcome political differences towards the end result of reconciliation. Gibbs said the new role could also include some in-country visits and emphasized the Vice President is uniquely suited for the new role.
"I think the meetings that I've been in, in different parts of the building on Iraq, the vice president has always been an active participant, "Gibbs said. "I think, given his knowledge of the region, the number of times he's been there, he's perfectly suited for this type of role."
Biden was the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations committee before being chosen by Obama to be his running mate. While in the Senate, Biden authored a paper advocating a three-way split of Iraq in order to advance reconciliation in the country. While Gibbs said Biden's extensive knowledge of Iraq makes him a perfect choice for the position, he said the idea of partition is no longer a live debate within the administration, noting it's completely gone from the language within the White House.