The French Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, paid a visit to Baghdad after two days from the departure of the combat US troops from Iraqi cities. Before that, the French Department of State issued a statement welcoming the departure of the US combat troops from Iraqi cities. The statement considered the departure a first step toward the full implementation of the security agreement. The statement announced Paris’ support for the Iraqi government to consolidate the state’s authority and its efforts to achieve national reconciliation.
The primary outcome of Fillon’s visit to Baghdad was the establishment of an Iraqi-French commission to follow up on their agreements. Also, France will support Iraq to join the World Trade Organization and sign a partnership agreement with the EU.
In a joint press conference with his French counterpart, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki said, “Iraq looks forward to political and economic cooperation between the two countries. Time has shown Paris and Baghdad’s common desire to establish the best bilateral relations.”
Al-Maliki added, “The French Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, came to Iraq together with representatives of the companies that have a long history of working in Iraq after they postponed their activities due to the security circumstances,” referring to the companies’ willingness to resume their activities in Iraq after the improvement of the security situation.
Al-Maliki also said, “This visit comes after the French president’s visit to Iraq which was followed by our visit to France. These two visits paved the way for the French delegation to come here today. The visits emphasize the two countries’ determination and willingness to cooperate in all fields.”
Al-Maliki added, “We did a good job during our visit by signing memorandums of understanding in the fields of defense, security, education, and energy.”
He stressed that “The Iraqi arena is now ready to receive French companies. Many of the signed memorandums of understanding are being implemented, and others are prepared for signing. The French companies found fertile ground for investment in Iraq.”
For his part, the French Prime Minister said, “Iraq is at a new stage today, and France wants to support it. Since 2003, France has taken initiatives by keeping its embassy open in Iraq and writing off more than $4 billion of Iraqi debts.”
He pointed out that “France supports the national reconciliation and the consolidation of democracy. It resumed the military cooperation, and a French Military Attaché will soon arrive in Baghdad. We will receive Iraqi officers to offer them training. We are willing to help Iraq in the field of homeland security.”
He added, “Iraq has reconciled with itself, and we are not worried about it. A strong Iraq is a source of balance in the region.” He stressed that France is trying to make the regional countries realize the importance of the new democratic Iraq.
The French Prime Minister said, “Today, we signed a joint statement that outlines the road map of economic cooperation. We reached an agreement to protect investment and facilitate the issuance of visas for Iraqi businessmen.”
The visit enhances Paris’ entry to the Iraqi market and activates the economic cooperation with Baghdad. At a previous meeting with the president of the French company Total, the Iraqi Prime Minister expressed his desire to see the French companies work in Iraq alongside the international companies. At the meeting, which was held last month in Baghdad, Total’s president Christophe De Margeri announced that his company will apply for a license to work in the oil field.
Also, the Commercial Attaché at the French embassy in Baghdad discussed, with the Iraqi Minister of Housing and Construction, the ways to promote economic cooperation between the two countries. They also discussed how Iraq can benefit from the French companies’ expertise in the rebuilding process.