France keen to assist Iraq, says foreign minister

BAGHDAD: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday expressed his country’s desire to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq’s infrastructure — damaged by the three-year war on Daesh — according to a statement issued by the Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Le Drian led a delegation to Baghdad and met his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Al-Jaafari and several other Iraqi officials.
The two sides discussed bilateral relations and how to strengthen them; prominent regional and international issues; and the importance of France’s participation in the reconstruction of Iraq.
“I came to Iraq to emphasize our continued support to the Iraqi people in various fields, and we look forward to contributing to the reconstruction of the infrastructure of Iraqi cities,” Le Drian said.
According to the statement, Le Drian said French President Emmanuel Macron would visit Baghdad soon and expressed his country’s readiness to complete the cooperation agreement that was previously put forward between the two countries.
“We count on the role of Iraq in resolving the crisis in Syria and its cooperation with France in this regard,” Le Drian said.
Monday’s visit coincided with the launch of the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, at which Iraq presented more than 150 major strategic projects for potential investors.
The majority of European countries are seeking investment opportunities in Iraq in return for their support for the Iraqi government during its war against terrorism. Investing in the oil sector is the main target for these countries, sources said.
“Iraq will not forget the friendly countries that stood by its side and supported us… and looks forward to (seeing) their contribution to the reconstruction of the infrastructure of Iraqi cities,” Jaafari said.
“The partnership between Iraq and France is very important and we must make more effort to activate common interests and face common dangers,” he added.
Iraqi government sources told Arab News that Iraq and France have been working together to develop a “Strategic Framework Agreement,” which is scheduled to be signed this year.
The agreement will apparently include the participation of French troops in the war against terrorism; joint understandings over the demands of the Human Rights Court related to banning the death penalty against European terrorists who have committed crimes in Iraq and Syria; and the participation of French companies in the reconstruction of Iraq.
The sources added that the Iraqi army may take part in the military parade for France’s Bastille Day celebrations in July.

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