Article published on the 2009-03-26 Latest update 2009-03-26 11:05 TU
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde (L) and Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Shahrestani sign the Franco-Iraqi Joint Comission in Paris, 24 March 2009
France signed a contract Wednesday to sell 24 military helicopters to Iraq in the first arms deal between the two countries since 1990. Iraq will pay 360 million euros for the two dozen Eurocopter EC 635s, and France has agreed to provide pilot training as well as maintenance. On Tuesday, Iraq’s Oil Minister Hussein Shahrestani and France’s Finance Minister Christine Lagarde convened the first Franco-Iraqi Joint Commission in 20 years.
French Defense Minister Hervé Morin and his Iraqi counterpart Abdul Qader Obeidi signed the helicopter deal at a meeting in Paris on Wednesday.
Morin also announced that Paris would "reopen a military mission to Baghdad" at the French embassy in Baghdad "starting this summer."
"We want to return to the relations that France had [with Iraq] until the 1980s,” he said, adding that “a large part of the Iraqi army was trained in France and equipped with French military equipment”.
In February, French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid an unannounced visit to Baghdad where he said France would help Iraq where it could, to help repair the country’s infrastructure, and support the economy. Defence was one area where France could help.
Obeidi said that Iraq had discussed other projects with "big French companies," without giving details, saying that deals like these would help the "independence" of his country and "facilitate the agreement with the United States on the withdrawal of American forces."On Tuesday, Iraq’s Oil Minister Hussein Shahrestani and France’s Finance Minister Christine Lagarde convened the 11th Franco-Iraqi Joint Commission in Paris, where they were joined with the heads of the French oil giant Total, Airbus’ parent company EADS, the bank Société Générale and the French Electricity company EDF.
Shahrestani said that Total was in a good position to secure contracts to upgrade Iraqi oil installations.
Lagarde said that French Prime Minister Francois Fillon was preparing to visit Baghdad and that an economic mission would be opened as of 1 May.
2009-02-22 14:37 TU