Biden discusses US future in Iraq

BAGHDAD - Vice President Joe Biden discussed the future of the American mission in Iraq Friday with the top two U.S. officials there following the withdrawal of most troops from the cities.

It was the vice president's first visit to Baghdad after being appointed to oversee the administration's Iraq policy.

Biden's arrival in Baghdad late Thursday came after all U.S. combat troops were pulled out of Iraq's cities and towns on Tuesday, as part of a security agreement that will see all American soldiers out of the country by the end of 2011.

Biden had breakfast with Gen. Ray Odierno and Ambassador Christopher Hill, America's top soldier and diplomat in Iraq.

During his three-day visit, Biden also will meet with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been criticized for failing to take advantage of security gains to make political progress.

Officials: 17 die in US missile strike in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD - U.S. missiles struck a training facility operated by Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud and a militant communication center Friday, killing 17 people and wounding 27 others, intelligence officials said.

The two attacks by drone aircraft took place in South Waziristan, a Mehsud stronghold close to the Afghan border where Pakistani troops are gearing up for a military offensive, two officials said on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, an army transport helicopter carrying security personnel in the northwest crashed after developing a technical fault, killing 26 people on board, military officials said. An investigation into the cause of the crash not far from the main city of Peshawar was under way, said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas.

Prison guards nab pigeon with cell phone

SAO PAULO - Prison guards foiled a new attempt to smuggle a cell phone into a Brazilian prison by carrier pigeon - this one wearing a tiny backpack - and said Friday that the practice is becoming almost commonplace.

An exhausted pigeon wearing a small makeshift backpack was intercepted just outside walls at the Danilo Pinheiro prison near the city of Sorocaba, said a spokesman for the Sao Paulo State Prison Affairs department.

Inside the cloth sack was a cell phone and a piece of paper with the name of the inmate who was waiting for the phone, the spokesman said.