France keen to assist Iraq, says foreign minister

Jean-Yves Le Drian. (AFP)
Updated 13 February 2018
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France keen to assist Iraq, says foreign minister

BAGHDAD: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday expressed his country’s desire to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq’s infrastructure — damaged by the three-year war on Daesh — according to a statement issued by the Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Le Drian led a delegation to Baghdad and met his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Al-Jaafari and several other Iraqi officials.
The two sides discussed bilateral relations and how to strengthen them; prominent regional and international issues; and the importance of France’s participation in the reconstruction of Iraq.
“I came to Iraq to emphasize our continued support to the Iraqi people in various fields, and we look forward to contributing to the reconstruction of the infrastructure of Iraqi cities,” Le Drian said.
According to the statement, Le Drian said French President Emmanuel Macron would visit Baghdad soon and expressed his country’s readiness to complete the cooperation agreement that was previously put forward between the two countries.
“We count on the role of Iraq in resolving the crisis in Syria and its cooperation with France in this regard,” Le Drian said.
Monday's visit coincided with the launch of the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, at which Iraq presented more than 150 major strategic projects for potential investors.
The majority of European countries are seeking investment opportunities in Iraq in return for their support for the Iraqi government during its war against terrorism. Investing in the oil sector is the main target for these countries, sources said.
“Iraq will not forget the friendly countries that stood by its side and supported us… and looks forward to (seeing) their contribution to the reconstruction of the infrastructure of Iraqi cities,” Jaafari said.
“The partnership between Iraq and France is very important and we must make more effort to activate common interests and face common dangers,” he added.
Iraqi government sources told Arab News that Iraq and France have been working together to develop a “Strategic Framework Agreement,” which is scheduled to be signed this year.
The agreement will apparently include the participation of French troops in the war against terrorism; joint understandings over the demands of the Human Rights Court related to banning the death penalty against European terrorists who have committed crimes in Iraq and Syria; and the participation of French companies in the reconstruction of Iraq.
The sources added that the Iraqi army may take part in the military parade for France’s Bastille Day celebrations in July.


Turkey will respond if US imposes more sanctions — trade minister

Updated 2 min 46 sec ago
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Turkey will respond if US imposes more sanctions — trade minister

  • American pastor’s detention in Turkey has sparked a diplomatic standoff and battered the Turkish currency
  • Washington warned Thursday that it would impose more sanctions unless the pastor was released
ISTANBUL: Turkey on Friday threatened to respond if the United States levied further sanctions over the detention of an American pastor, which has sparked a diplomatic standoff and battered the Turkish currency.
“We’ve already responded based on the World Trade Organization rules and will continue to do so,” Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Washington warned on Thursday that it would impose more sanctions unless pastor Andrew Brunson, described by US President Donald Trump as a “hostage,” was released.
Brunson’s detention since October 2016 on terror-related charges has soured relations between the two NATO allies, sending the Turkish lira into a tailspin.
The lira, which earlier this week traded at well over seven to the dollar, was at 5.8 against the dollar and 6.7 against euro on Friday.
Last week, Trump tweeted that his administration was doubling aluminum and steel tariffs for Turkey, and in response Ankara sharply hiked tariffs on some US products.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested Thursday the next spiral of tit-for-tat sanctions was coming soon, in a sign of a deepening spat.
Trump prefaced Mnuchin’s remarks by saying that Turkey had not been a very good friend to America.
Referring to Brunson, Trump said: “They have a great Christian pastor there, he’s a very innocent man.”