PARIS: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that his government granted one billion euros (1.15 billion U.S. dollars) loan to Iraq to support reconstruction and stability efforts in the areas destroyed by the war against the extremist Islamic State (IS) militants.
“France has decided to allocate a loan of one billion euros to Iraq to contribute to the reconstruction and stabilization efforts in the country,” Le Drian told a joint news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed al-Hakim.
“France has always been on the side of Iraq in war and peace, and now in reconstruction of the country,” he said, adding that France has to continue its humanitarian assistance in areas that were under control of IS group.
For his part, al-Hakim said that “many political and economic issues have been discussed (with Le Drian), including the entry of French companies into Iraq to participate in reconstruction efforts, as well as cooperation in cultural, educational fields.”
Al-Hakim also said that the two sides discussed the situation in Syria and stressed that it should stabilize and that all the areas in Syria must return to government control. The French chief of diplomacy arrived in Baghdad earlier in the day on an official visit and held a meeting with al-Hakim as well as the Iraqi President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and the Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi.
A statement by Abdul Mahdi’s office said that the premier received the French minister and the two held a meeting, during which Abdul Mahdi hailed France’s support to Iraq “in its war against Daesh (IS group), and its coordination in supporting security and stability in the (Middle East) region.”
Le Drian said that “Iraq has become a key player in stability and France will go forward with the partnership and cooperation with Iraq,” the statement said.
France is part of a U.S.-led international coalition tasked with helping the Iraqi security forces in the fight against IS militants by carrying out airstrikes against the IS in Iraq and Syria and providing military equipment and training to Iraqi forces.