French foreign minister visits Iraq to discuss reconstruction

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stands in front of artwork by late Korean-born painter Lee Ungno as he attends a ceremony at the French embassy in Seoul on February 11, 2018.

:: France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Iraq on Monday to discuss the war-torn country’s reconstruction with Iraqi officials after Baghdad declared victory against ISIS.

“I have come to tell you of France’s support and to accompany you. We will always be there. We were there to participate in the coalition. We will also be there in the reconstruction phase,” Le Drian said.

France has been a key member of the US-led military coalition fighting ISIS after the jihadist group seized large swathes of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014.

Baghdad is looking to drum up funds at a reconstruction conference in neighboring Kuwait from Monday to Wednesday after announcing the defeat of ISIS nationwide at the end of last year.

“We hope French expertise will be used for the reconstruction,” Iraq’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari replied.

Le Drian, who previously visited Baghdad in August last year, is also to meet Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, President Fuad Massum and parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi.

Iraq is still reeling from the rise of ISIS and the punishing fightback it took to crush the jihadists, with swathes of its territory in ruins and millions of people displaced.

Authorities in the resource-rich nation say there has been a heavy toll on oil, electricity and manufacturing infrastructure, as well as basic services such as water and sanitation.

Baghdad needs to raise $100 billion to rebuild, Abadi has said, after the fight against ISIS and decades of sanctions and war.

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