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French foreign minister visits Iraq

Latest update : 2008-06-03

France's foreign affairs minister, Bernard Kouchner, arrived in Nasiriyah, southern Iraq, for a two-day visit on Saturday. He is due to meet the Iraqi vice president, Adel Abdel Mahdi, who once lived in exile in France.

BAGHDAD - French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner arrived in Iraq on Saturday, where he was due to visit the southern city of Nassiriya for talks with Shi'ite Vice-President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the French embassy said.

A French diplomatic official in Paris said that, during his two-day visit, Kouchner would inaugurate a new French embassy office in Arbil in northern Iraq.

"The visit represents the re-engagement of France, and through it the European Union and the international community, in Iraq," the official said.

France, which assumes the rotating EU presidency in July, has said it will lead a drive for EU involvement in rebuilding Iraq and offered to hold reconciliation talks.

Kouchner's visit will include meetings with Sunni and Shi'ite political leaders, as well as humanitarian groups and the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Emmanuel III Delly.

Earlier this year, Kouchner proposed granting 500 visas to Iraqi Christians whom he said suffered particularly in the country's sectarian violence.

On Friday, a diplomatic official in Paris said not all Iraqi refugee families granted visas for France would be Christians.
 

Date created : 2008-05-31

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