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Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Saturday, 31 May 2008 12:55 UK

France offers Iraq rebuilding aid

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (26 May 2008)
Mr Kouchner last visited Iraq in August 2007

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is in Iraq to offer help in rebuilding the country and promoting national reconciliation.

Mr Kouchner, whose visit began in the southern city of Nasiriya, is holding talks with senior officials.

France was one of the fiercest critics of the 2003 US-led invasion, and this is Mr Kouchner's second visit to Iraq in less than a year.

He told reporters his message was one of "peace and co-operation".

He also announced four Iraqi children would undergo heart surgery in France.

Mr Kouchner landed at a US base in Nasiriya, hours after it came under attack.

He held talks with Shia Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who lived in exile in France when Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, before being taken on a tour of the ancient city of Ur.

Mr Kouchner is also due to open a French diplomatic office in Irbil, in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

Mr Kouchner, who is co-founder of the international organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres, arrived in Iraq from Jordan, where he signed an agreement to help the country develop its nuclear energy programme.



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