French foreign minister in Baghdad for talks about counter-ISIS mission

Arrived in Erbil overnight for meetings with KRG officials
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi (center) meets with French foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (left) and Iraqi foreign minister Fuad Hussein (right, facing away) in Baghdad on July 16, 2020 (Photo Credit: Twitter/@FranceBaghdad)

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SULAIMANI — French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived in Erbil late on Thursday night (July 16) following a visit to Baghdad where he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to discuss the ongoing fight against Islamic State (ISIS).

During the first leg of the trip, Le Drian also met with his counterpart Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein to reiterate France’s commitment to fighting the militants.

“The reason for our visit to Baghdad is to support the Iraqi government which is currently facing dangers,” Le Drian told reporters at a joint news conference according to Turkish state-owned Anadolu Agency.

“We support Iraqi security forces against the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group. We will not compromise against the enemy,” he added.

France is an active member of the International Coalition’s anti-ISIS operations in Iraq. However, the presence of foreign troops is a controversial topic for many Iraqis, in particular those supporting Shia parties that hew close to Tehran’s political line.

Following the assassination of Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassem Sulaimani by the US in January, the Council of Representatives voted to urge Kadhimi’s predecessor to expel all foreign troops, which would impact France’s training mission in the country.

During his meeting with Kadhimi, Le Drian also emphasized the importance of strategic relations between France and Iraq and the prospects for increasing economic cooperation, according to the French Embassy in Baghdad.

After his meetings in Baghdad, the French Foreign Minister flew to Erbil, where he was greeted by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani and Head of the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations Minister Safeen Dizayee.

On Friday, he is expected to have meetings with local officials.

(NRT Digital Media)