Biden calls Iraq's prime minister to discuss security crisis

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Thursday to discuss the country's deepening security crisis, a U.S. official said. No details were immediately available about the conversation, which comes as a militant group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has seized broad swaths of northern Iraq, including Mosul, the country's second-largest city. The White House signaled on Wednesday that it was looking to strengthen Iraqi forces to help them deal with the insurgency rather than to meet what one U.S. official said were past Iraqi requests for U.S. air strikes against the militants. Biden has often served as U.S. President Barack Obama's point-man on Iraq, and maintains close ties to the country's top officials. (Reporting by Warren Strobel; Editing by Eric Beech)

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