France’s Macron pledges aid to Iraq in energy, fight against IS

Baghdad, Sep 2 (efe-epa).- French President Emmanuel Macron said here Wednesday that his country will assist Iraq’s efforts to tackle power shortages and continue to back Iraqi forces in their battle against the remnants of Islamic State.

Macron, making his first official visit to Iraq, met separately with counterpart Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

“France is fully prepared to commit to the framework of your strategy to diversify and secure energy sources,” Macron said during a joint press conference with al-Kadhimi, who mentioned that they discussed a “future project for nuclear energy to produce electricity and peaceful projects under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Organization.”

That project, the Iraqi premier said, “will create jobs and address electricity shortages.”

Nearly 20 years after the US invasion that devastated oil-rich Iraq’s infrastructure, people have electricity for just nine hours a day on average.

The meeting also addressed bilateral military cooperation.

“We dealt with the issue of strengthening our military cooperation in order to combat IS,” Macron said during the joint appearance with al-Kadhimi. “We will remain committed because the battle against Islamic State is ongoing but this has to be in the context of an agreement and protocol that respects Iraq’s sovereignty.”

In March, the US-led international coalition began to withdraw from its bases in Iraq and hand over the installations to Iraqi forces.

“Iraqi leaders must lead a transition that protects their country’s sovereignty and strengthens the security of Iraq and the region. The Islamic State and the numerous external interventions are some of the challenges that threaten Iraq,” Macron said earlier during a joint news conference with Salih.

Turkey and Iran each carried out airstrikes this year in Iraqi Kurdistan, where Turkish forces have also engaged in ground operations against the Kurdish Workers Party, labeled by Turkey, the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization.

Before leaving Baghdad, Macron touched on the trials in Iraq of French nationals who joined IS, 11 of whom have been sentenced to death.

“Things are clear about the French terrorists and we continue in the same strategy regarding our citizens who chose to fight on a path that led to the death of many civilians, which is that the Iraqi authorities have the legitimate right to try them,” he said. EFE


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