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France Says Will Help Iraq Post-War Reconstruction

French Defense Minister Florence Parly (L) shakes hands with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian present during a joint news conference in Baghdad on August 26.French Defense Minister Florence Parly (L) shakes hands with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian present during a joint news conference in Baghdad on August 26.

France will assist in reconstruction and reconciliation efforts in Iraq as it emerges from the war with the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Saturday after talks with Iraqi officials in Baghdad.

France is a main partner in the US-led coalition helping Baghdad to fight the militants who seized parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014. The coalition provided key air and ground support for Iraqi forces in the nine-month campaign to take back Mosul, Islamic State’s capital in Iraq, Reuters reported.

The fall of Mosul, in July, in effect marked the end of the “caliphate” declared by IS’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, over parts of Iraq and Syria. The town of Tal Afar was cut-off from the rest of IS-held territory in June.

“We are present in the war and we will be present in the peace,” Le Drian told a news conference in Baghdad with French Defense Minister Florence Parly and Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

“Even if our joint combat against Daesh is not finished, it is entering a phase of stabilization, of reconciliation, of reconstruction, a phase of peace,” Le Drian said, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym.

The French ministers were also due to meet Iraqi Kurdish leaders in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region, whose Peshmerga fighters have also played a key part in the fight against IS.

France and other western countries are worried that the Kurdistan Regional Government’s plan to hold an independence referendum next month could ignite fresh conflict with Baghdad and neighboring states who host sizeable Kurdish communities, mainly Iran and Turkey.

A diplomat familiar with French policy said Le Drian and Parly will convey to KRG President Massoud Barzani the French position in favor of an autonomous Kurdistan that remains part of the Iraqi state.

 

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