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Last Updated: Monday, 12 July, 2004, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
France and Iraq restore relations
Iraqi security forces
France is willing to help train Iraqi security forces
France and Iraq have restored diplomatic ties after a 13-year break.

Iraq's then leader, Saddam Hussein, severed ties in 1991 in protest at France's participation in the war to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

The restoration of ties was announced simultaneously in Paris and Baghdad, and the French flag raised above what is now the French embassy.

The two countries plan to exchange ambassadors as quickly as possible, the French foreign ministry said.

Nuclear reactor

Iraq's interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, has said he hopes to start a fresh and healthy relationship based on mutual interest.

And a French foreign ministry statement said the two governments wished "to promote and to reinforce the ties of friendship and co-operation existing between their two countries and two peoples, on the basis of mutual respect for their sovereignty".

Before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1991, France enjoyed friendly relations with the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

He opened up Iraq's oil market to French companies, while France sold Iraq its first nuclear reactor.

Although the sale was on condition that the reactor was only for civil use, Saddam Hussein tried to convert it to make a nuclear bomb.

France opposed the US-led war and has rejected American requests for military help to tackle the insurgency.

However, the French government has said it is willing to help train Iraqi security forces.

It also supports limited forgiveness of Iraqi debt.

Last month, leaders of the 26-member Nato military alliance agreed to offer training to the security forces of Iraq's new interim government, although French President Jacques Chirac repeated his opposition to a Nato role within the country.


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