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Macron arrives in Baghdad to hold talks with Iraqi officials


French President Emmanuel Macron is in Baghdad on his first official visit to Iraq for talks with the country’s senior officials.

Coming straight from a two-day trip to the Lebanese capital Beirut, Macron arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday morning.

Macron’s visit is the first by a western head of state to Iraq since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi came to power in May.

Iraqi President Barham Salih (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron (R) review the honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq September 2, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Official Iraqi media said the French president will discuss closer military cooperation with Iraqi officials.

Macron was welcomed by President Barham Salih upon arrival.

He has already started a series of meetings with Iraqi officials including Prime Minister Kadhimi, President Salih and Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi. He is also scheduled to sit down for talks with Nechirvan Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

Local media reported that Macron will also hold a meeting with Iraq’s prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf.

“In Baghdad… where I have just expressed our support for Iraq at this challenging time. There are many challenges in terms of guaranteeing Iraq’s sovereignty in all its dimensions, … both inside the country and elsewhere in the region,” he wrote.

Pointing to Paris’ role in the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh, he said, “Our collective security and regional stability are at risk,” and that the two countries’ soldiers are “fighting side by side” to ensure the terror group suffers a final defeat.

Daesh emerged in Iraq in 2014 and made sweeping territorial gains in the north and the west, putting the country on the brink of being overtaken by the Takfiri outfit. Iraq declared victory over Daesh in late 2017, but the US-led alliance has yet to end the so-called counter-terrorism mission in the country.


Sources: AP – AFP – Reuters 

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