Macron lands in Baghdad on first Iraq visit

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - He is the most significant leader to visit Iraq since Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi came to power in May

Sep 2, 2020

September 2, 2020

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French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday on his first visit to Iraq and the first by a western head of state to the country since a new Iraqi government took office four months ago.

Official Iraqi media said Mr Macron will discuss closer security cooperation with Iraqi officials, pointing to France's role as a member of the international coalition against ISIS.

European powers, which except for Britain, opposed the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, have since taken a mostly ambivalent position toward the central government in Baghdad.

Instead, France and Germany have concentrated on building ties with the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq. Mustafa Al Kadhimi, the new Iraqi prime minister, has sought to create an independent foreign policy less governed by parametres set by Iran since coming to power in May.

The visit comes a day after he met with leaders in Lebanon to press for reforms after the devastating explosion earlier this month that left at least 190 people dead.

He is the most significant leader to visit Iraq since Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi came to power in May.

The trip was not publicly announced until Tuesday evening, with officials in Paris and Baghdad keeping a tight lid on arrangements for security reasons.

On his final night in Beirut, Mr Macron announced he was heading to Baghdad "to launch an initiative alongside the United Nations to support a process of sovereignty".

Updated: September 2, 2020 11:31 AM

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