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Germany

German Economy Minister Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq

German Economy Minister Michael Glos held talks with Iraqi officials in Baghdad on Saturday, the first German cabinet minister to visit since the US-led invasion began.

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, shakes hands with the German Economy Minister Michael Glos in Baghdad

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, shakes hands with the German Economy Minister Michael Glos in Baghdad

Germany was staunchly opposed to the war, but Saturday's surprise visit by Glos could indicate that Berlin and other capitals are ready to upgrade relations with Iraq, where violence has fallen to new lows.

"The German minister confirmed his country's keenness to improve political and economic ties with Iraq and that German companies are absolutely ready to rebuild Iraq," Deputy Prime minister Barham Salih's office said in a statement.

European interest in Iraq has grown, especially due to its large energy potential. The European Union is negotiating an energy deal with the country, since it is eager to wean itself from dependence on Russian energy sources.

Germany has also been concerned lately about the effects of high oil prices on the country's economic growth.

Visit to Germany announced

Iraq announced that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will soon visit Berlin. "I hope that my forthcoming visit to Germany will mark the beginning of a strengthening of relations in all fields, particularly the economic field, and will lead to the sealing of agreements which will serve the interests of the two countries," Maliki said in a statement released by his office.

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