Iraq News - Local News - Baghdadpost

France will continue to support Iraq to rebuild: Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, May 3, 2019. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi met Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris. 

"The political and financial mobilization of our country will increase alongside you. The French development agency will soon set up in Baghdad with increased resources to help you in this reconstruction,” Macron said in a press conference alongside Abdul-Mahdi. 

Macron highlighted that France will continue to support Iraq to rebuild.

"You will soon meet the companies involved in the reconstruction of Iraq, which is a land of real opportunity. And whether it is transport, energy, agriculture, water, urban management, we want to be able to fully mobilize them, as we have mobilized a €1 billion funding line to facilitate these new projects,” he said. 

Abdul-Mahdi, who lived in France in exile for 20 years during the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, hailed the warm ties between Paris and Baghdad. "France has always stood with us," he said, adding France has sheltered many Iraqis. 

"We depend a lot on the presence and existence of the French side with us in the reconstruction process of the country," Abdul-Mahdi explained.

He and Macron also discussed opportunities to increase cooperation in the security sector, Abdul-Mahdi added, noting that the Islamic State (ISIS) has been defeated militarily, but it still remains a threat. 

"We don't hide that there are still many sleeper cells. This is something normal for a force that occupied a third of Iraq and has strong presences in Iraq and Syria," he said. Everyone needs to continue cooperating when it comes to ISIS and their focus shouldn't be turned to other things as it could create gaps in anti-ISIS efforts.

A source told AFP that the agreement signed between the two countries includes a military component, specifically reinforcing the number of French military trainers in Iraq.

Later in the day, Abdul-Mahdi met with French Defense Minister Florence Parly. She announced that France’s gunners taking part in the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria had “officially terminated their mission” and, with the territorial defeat of ISIS, the fight was entering a new stage, one of combatting sleeper cells. She discussed this continued engagement and French military training of Iraqi soldiers in her meeting with Abdul-Mahdi.

Abdul-Mahdi and Macron also discussed the case situation of ISIS families and foreign fighters at al-Hol camp in Syria and the prosecution of French jihadists in Iraq. A source told AFP that Baghdad has not submitted an official request for financial support for the incarceration of French ISIS suspects, but that such a request will likely be made soon.