Sarkozy makes surprise Iraq visit

Visit is first by French head of state since US-led invasion in 2003.

    In January, Iraq held its most peaceful election
    since the fall of Saddam Hussein [AFP]

    "The elections were very, very successful," Sarkozy, who was accompanied by Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister, told a joint news conference after meeting with Talabani.

    "France believes in the unity of Iraq and the world needs a strong Iraq."

    French assistance

    He said France can help Iraq with the economy, construction and much-needed electricity as well as training Iraqi security forces and diplomatic efforts.

    Violence in Iraq is dying down after tens of thousands of Iraqis and more than 4,000 US soldiers died since the invasion in 2003.

    But suicide and car bomb attacks remain common. 

    On Tuesday, a bomb attached to a car belonging to one of the guards of Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the vice-president,  exploded near a hospital and less than half a mile (one kilometer) away from the French embassy in central Baghdad, police said.

    One aguard and two bystanders were wounded, they added.

    Sarkozy's visit was shrouded in secrecy.
       
    The last high-level visit to Iraq by a French official was in May 2007 when Kouchner spent a few days in Baghdad, in a sign of what Paris said was a renewed commitment to the country despite its staunch opposition to the US-led war.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    From Cameroon to US-Mexico border: 'We saw corpses along the way'

    'We saw corpses along the way'

    Kombo Yannick is one of the many African asylum seekers braving the longer Latin America route to the US.