French President Macron in Baghdad to support Iraqi sovereignty, fight against ISIS

Met with Salih, Kadhimi, and Nechirvan Barzani
French President Emmanuel Macron and Iraq's President Barham Salih greet each other with an elbow bump as they attend a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq September 2, 2020. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

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SULAIMANI — French President Emmanuel Macron arrived Baghdad on Wednesday (September 2) for his first official visit to the country and the first by a Western head of state since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took over in May.

Macron met first with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih and the pair then held a joint press conference.

“We are here for and we will continue to support Iraq,” Macron said after the meeting. Salih argued that Iraq should not become a battleground for proxy conflicts between other states, according to Reuters.

Speaking to reporters, Macron identified Iraq's two main challenges as foreign interference in its affairs and the continuing fight against Islamic State (ISIS).

During their meeting, Kadhimi and Macron focused on boosting Iraq’s electricity supply and broad bilateral cooperation between their two countries.

“We talked about a future project, using nuclear energy to produce electricity and peaceful projects, which will be under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency...which will create jobs and address electricity shortages,” Kadhimi said according to Reuters.

Macron said that France and Iraq would work together to improve security, educational, and economic ties.

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani characterized his meeting with Macron as “constructive” in a tweet.

“I am grateful for France’s continued support and its strong ties with people of the Kurdistan Region. I look forward to further developing our strong relations with France,” he added.

Also present during Macron’s meetings with Salih and Barzani was Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Co-President Lahur Sheikh Jangi.

Macron is the third senior French official to visit Iraq this summer, following foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and defense minister Florence Parly.

(NRT Digital Media)

This story was updated at 6:15 p.m. EBL