Vice President Biden on Wednesday met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the Mideast nation’s security.

Biden hosted al-Maliki at the Naval Observatory, where the two had a “friendly, constructive exchange,” according to the White House.

“They spoke about the security challenges facing Iraq and the entire region,” said the White House in a statement. “Vice President Biden reiterated the U.S. commitment to equip Iraqis to fight Al Qaeda, and Prime Minister Maliki made clear that he views the United States as Iraq’s security partner of choice.”

Al-Maliki's visit to the U.S. comes amid a spike in violence in Iraq and with congressional lawmakers warning that the prime minister's leadership is further dividing his country and fanning sectarian divisions.

A bipartisan group of senators wrote to President Obama earlier this week urging him to take a tougher stance with al-Maliki and push him to calm tensions in Iraq.

The prime minister is in the U.S. seeking a major weapons deal.

Officials are also worried about the possibility that the sectarian civil war in neighboring Syria could spill over and have cautioned that al Qaeda elements in Iraq are gaining strength.

The White House said Biden and al-Maliki “discussed the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to Iraq’s security challenges, to include political outreach to local leaders, as well as targeted security efforts.”

Al-Maliki is slated to meet with Obama at the White House on Friday.