On Monday, November 2, the Paris International Airport Corporation, a French company, signed a 41-million-dollar contract with the Iraqi government to develop designs for the Euphrates Airport. The airport will be built near the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.
The contract was signed after a meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and the French Minister of State for Foreign Trade Affairs, Ms. Anne-Marie Idrac. The contract was signed by the General Authority of Iraqi Civil Aviation and Paris International Airport Corporation (ADPI). During Al-Maliki’s recent visit to Paris, it was agreed that ADPI would develop the designs and build the Euphrates Airport. The Iraqi side was represented by Minister of Transportation Amer Abd Al-Jabbar, while Ms. Idrac represented the French side in signing the contract.
The Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister issued a statement, of which Mawtani received a copy, emphasizing the Iraqi government’s keenness to develop relations with France in the fields of economics, trade, transportation, oil, and energy. In addition, the Iraqi government is interested in promoting cooperation with the French side in all areas. In a statement, the prime minister reiterated his call for French companies to take part in the reconstruction process.
The prime minister called upon the French minister and her delegation to organize a meeting with the National Investment Authority to review the amendments to the investment law, which gives guarantees to businessmen and companies.
Al-Maliki emphasized that the atmosphere is now suitable to invest in Iraq, after it achieved the broad security stability that allows Iraqis move freely between governorates. He added that the security challenges of the terrorist attacks that took place on the Bloody Wednesday and Sunday aimed to influence the upcoming elections and sabotage the political process and democratic experiment in the country.
The prime minister said, “We are keen on forging relations based on mutual interests and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. We have worked to establish a network of relations with neighboring countries. Our effort has succeeded with some countries and failed with others, however.” He added, “Therefore, we have asked the United Nations to investigate these bombings and have called upon the international community to stand by the Iraqi people. We also called upon France to support us in this respect, in order to do the innocent lives justice.”
French Minister of State for Foreign Trade Affairs Anne-Marie Idrac conveyed a message to Al-Maliki from French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In his message, the French president emphasized his support for Iraq and condemned of the two terrorist attacks on Wednesday and Sunday.
Idrac expressed her country’s desire to secure a significant presence for French companies in Iraq. She said that the French president had emphasized that France should be a key partner in Iraq. She pointed out that French companies had participated in the current session of the Baghdad International Fair and had supported Iraq in the fields of transportation, electricity, energy, oil, and others.
The French embassy in Baghdad said in a press statement that the French minister is currently visiting Baghdad on the occasion of the inauguration of the Baghdad International Fair and that she “attended the signing ceremony.”
The airport, which was announced by the Iraqi prime minister in July 2008, will be built on the outskirts of Karbala in southern Iraq. It will be called the Euphrates Airport.
No doubt, the construction of this airport will boost air traffic and tourism, especially religious tourism. Millions of visitors from all over the world come every year to holy cities in Iraq. The new airport will likely increase the number of visitors who go to the cities of Karbala and Najaf. The two cities host the shrines of Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib and his two sons, Imam Al-Hussein and Al-Abbas, peace be upon them.