White House hails French FM's Iraq visit

20th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

CRAWFORD, Texas, Aug 19, 2007 (AFP) - The White House on Sunday hailed French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's surprise visit to Iraq as a sign of mounting global efforts to stabilize that war-torn country.

CRAWFORD, Texas, Aug 19, 2007 (AFP) - The White House on Sunday hailed French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's surprise visit to Iraq as a sign of mounting global efforts to stabilize that war-torn country.

"The United States welcomes the visit of French Foreign Minister Kouchner to Baghdad," national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe said as US President George W. Bush spent time here on his Texas ranch.

"This is one more example, along with the new UN mandate, the neighbors conference process and recent announcements by Saudi Arabia to open an embassy and forgive Saddam era debt, of a growing international desire to help Iraq become a stable and secure country," said Johndroe.

Kouchner's visit was the first by a French minister since Paris opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the French Foreign Ministry said.

It comes a week after French President Nicolas Sarkozy met his US counterpart George W. Bush for informal talks, billed as a sign of warming ties, which had Iraq high on the agenda.

The Baghdad visit is the first by a French minister since Sarkozy's predecessor Jacques Chirac spearheaded international opposition to the US-led war, putting a heavy strain on relations with Washington.

AFP

Subject: French news

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