French president says to support Iraq in military, reconstruction

Baghdad, Sep 3 (IANS) French President Emmanuel Macron said that France is seeking to boost cooperation with Iraq in all fields such as military and reconstruction.
He made the remarks in a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Wednesday, saying that France also supports the building of a metro railway in Iraqi capital Baghdad, Xinhua news agency reported.
As for military cooperation, Macron told the conference that France is abiding by supporting Iraq in the fight against Islamic State (IS) group, asserting the need to boost the military cooperation with Iraq in the war against the extremist group.
He also said that Iraq is an “effective” country in the region, and France and the international community are supporting Iraq, which is facing major challenges, including security.
For his part, al-Kadhimi told the reporters that Iraq is “grateful for the French support in reconstructing the liberated areas, which were destroyed by IS militants.”
He said that Macron’s visit “comes in sensitive circumstances, given the difficulties the world is going through due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the collapse of oil prices, and the economic situation, as well as the tensions in the region.”
Al-Kadhimi also said that he talked with Macron about “a future project,” using nuclear energy to generate electricity and other peaceful projects, which will be under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“We discussed with Macron means to support the Iraqi government in its efforts to protect sovereignty,” al-Kadhimi said. “We do not want to be an arena for confrontations but a zone of stability and moderation.”
Macron also met with Nichervan Barzani, head of Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.
“We had a constructive meeting in Baghdad today. I am grateful to France for its continuous support (for Kurdistan) and for its strong relations with the people of Kurdistan region,” Barzani tweeted.
Earlier in the day, Macron arrived in Baghdad for an official visit and met with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih.
Salih said eliminating terrorism “requires the support of friends and the international community, and we still have a lot to do in this regard.”
This is Macron’s first official trip to Iraq. He is also the first presidential-level official to visit Iraq since al-Kadhimi took office in May.
France is part of a US-led international coalition tasked with helping the Iraqi security forces fight against the IS militants by carrying out airstrikes against their positions in Iraq and Syria as well as providing military equipment and training to Iraqi forces.

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