Iraqi president meets presidential hopefuls

4th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 3, 2006 (AFP) - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani sought Friday to deepen his country's ties with France by arranging meetings in Paris with four politicians vying to become the next French president.

PARIS, Nov 3, 2006 (AFP) - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani sought Friday to deepen his country's ties with France by arranging meetings in Paris with four politicians vying to become the next French president.

The meetings with the three Socialist hopefuls — Ségolène Royal, Laurent Fabius and Dominique Strauss-Kahn — and the conservative contender, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, were announced after Talabani was received Thursday by current French President Jacques Chirac.

In that meeting, Talabani said Chirac had assured him of his "full support" in Iraq's battle against rising sectarian and insurgent violence.

At the start of his visit Thursday, Talabani called for France to turn the page on the rift sparked by its opposition to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and for Paris and Baghdad to revive their once-close economic and political ties.

Friday, he covered his bases by starting his meetings with the politicians looking to succeed Chirac after elections due in April-May next year.

In talks with Sarkozy, he discussed France's training of Iraqi police and civil servants outside of Iraq.

Sarkozy said 110 senior police officers and 39 magistrates from Iraq received instruction in French police academies last year, and another 800 civil servants were being trained this year.

Talabani was to meet Royal — the frontrunner in polls with Sarkozy to assume the presidency — later Friday.

His talks with Strauss-Kahn, a former economy minister, were due to take place on Saturday, and those with Fabius are scheduled for early next Tuesday.

Talabani's official visit was to wrap up Friday but he is to remain privately in France until Wednesday.

It is the second visit to the country by an Iraqi head of state since the 2003 invasion, after that of former Iraqi president Ghazi Al-Yawar in January last year.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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