Chirac to meet Iraqi president Thursday

30th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 30, 2006 (AFP) - An Iraqi delegation made up of President Jalal Talabani and four ministers is to make a four-day visit to France this week, during which Talabani will hold talks with President Jacques Chirac, French officials said Monday.

PARIS, Oct 30, 2006 (AFP) - An Iraqi delegation made up of President Jalal Talabani and four ministers is to make a four-day visit to France this week, during which Talabani will hold talks with President Jacques Chirac, French officials said Monday.

Talabani and Chirac are to meet Thursday to discuss the situation in Iraq, the French president's office said.

It will be the second visit of an Iraqi president to France since the 2003 war led by the United States, which Chirac firmly opposed. Talabani's predecessor, Ghazi al-Yawar, came to Paris in January last year.

The Iraqis are due to arrive in the French capital late Wednesday and stay until Saturday, according to French officials.

During the visit, they are also to meet Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and other officials.

The designated next UN secretary general, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon, is also expected in Paris during that time, from Thursday to Saturday, but there was no announced plans for him to meet Talabani.

The Iraqi visit comes as the United States is under increasing pressure to withdraw its military forces from Iraq, which has become home to widespread and intense violence.

The French foreign ministry said Paris was not calling for an "immediate" withdrawal of the US troops, but rather a "coordinated" plan for them to leave so the Iraqi people can enjoy full sovereignty.

France has taken an active role in international efforts to help Iraq, offering to train police outside the country and rubbing out four billion euros (five billion dollars) in Iraqi debt.

It fears, however, that the rampant sectarian violence in Iraq could lead to a fragmentation of the country and "consequences for regional stability."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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