Iraq asks for French weapons for army forces

Later Sunday, Kouchner traveled to the northern Kurdish city of Irbil, where preparations were under way to open a French consulate.

Iraq asks for French weapons for army forces

The Iraqi government pressed for advanced French weapons Sunday, while France's top diplomat said French companies were private and free to make their own decisions about whether to do business in wartorn Iraq.

In a meeting with visiting Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "expressed Iraq's desire to supply its armed forces with advanced French weapons," according to a statement from his Baghdad office.

Kouchner, on a two-day trip to Iraq, said afterward that he supported increased cooperation between the two countries but could not force French companies to invest in Iraq.

"Unfortunately, French companies are private ones," Kouchner told reporters in Baghdad.

"I think the situation in Iraq has improved and the security in some areas looks like the situation in some other countries and areas in the world," he said. "The French companies have to take seriously and consider all these projects and offers."

Al-Maliki also called on French companies to invest in reconstruction and building projects across Iraq, his office said.

"These projects were proposed to France and we will see if the French industrialists and companies participate in such projects," he said.

Kouchner added that France would also increase the number of Iraqi students eligible to study in France each year, but did not give details.

Later Sunday, Kouchner traveled to the northern Kurdish city of Irbil, where preparations were under way to open a French consulate.

It was the French foreign minister's second visit to Iraq in less than a year, as Paris seeks to rebuild ties with the battered, fledgling nation.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Haziran 2008, 11:54
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