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Irak Präsident Francois Hollande in Bagdad Fuad Masum
Image: Reuters/Ali al-Saadi

Hollande supports Iraqi gov't

September 12, 2014

Francois Hollande has expressed his country's support for Iraq's new government. The French president's trip to Baghdad came as France was considering joining a US-led bombing campaign on Islamist extremists.


President Hollande used a joint press conference on Friday with his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Masum, to pledge France's "support and solidarity" for the new government , which is battling "Islamic State" (IS) militants, who have taken control of large swaths of the north of the country, as well as neighboring Syria.

"It is an honor to be the first head of state here since this government was formed, Hollande said.

"You are confronting an enemy, a terrorist group, which knows no borders, but does have territorial interests, which doesn't simply want to make war on Iraq, but on all people who do not share the vision of terror upon which it is based," the French president said.

Hollande was in Baghdad in part in preparation for an international conference on Iraq that he is to host in Paris on Monday. Hollande said the aim of that meeting would be "to coordinate the aid, the support [and] the actions to work for the unity of Iraq and against this terrorist group."

France - along with the US, Germany, and the UK - has pledged to supply arms to Kurdish fighters battling "IS" in the north of the country. It has also said that it is prepared to take part in US-led airstrikes on IS fighters in Iraq "if necessary."

Hollande was also to meet with the new Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, later in the day.

Arab pledge to confront IS

The French president arrived in Baghdad just hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry secured a pledge from 10 of his Arab counterparts to "do their share in the comprehensive fight" against IS.

According to a statement released following Thursday's talks in Jeddah, this will include "stopping the flow of foreign fighters through neighboring countries, countering financing of IS and other violent extremists, repudiating their hateful ideology, ending impunity and bringing perpetrators to justice."

On Friday, Kerry moved on to Ankara for talks with Turkish officials about the crisis in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Turkey was represented at the Jeddah talks but declined to sign on to the agreement to combat the IS.

Shortly after arriving in Ankara, Kerry announced that the US would provide nearly $500 million (387 million euros) in additional humanitarian aid for people affected by Syria's civil war.

Meanwhile, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere announced on Friday that he had banned all IS activities in Germany.

At the same time though, Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out joining the US -led military effort in Iraq.

"The stabilization of the region is of great concern to the German government but I can rule out participation in military air strikes," the chancellor's spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz told reporters in Berlin.

pfd/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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