France and Iraq have signed several agreements aimed at strengthening economic ties between the two countries. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani traveled to Paris for his first official visit as leader and met with French President Emmanuel Macron. The leaders signed a treaty to strengthen bilateral relations in areas such as anti-corruption, security, renewable energy, and culture.
According to the Elysee Palace, the leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to completing large infrastructure projects based on French know-how and pledged to grant Iraq the expertise of French companies. In the field of alternative energies, the leaders expressed their commitment to the implementation of TotalEnergies’ multiple-energies project, which is based on solar energy and investments in gas.
Mr. Al Sudani stated that the agreements between the two countries have set up a “road map” for improved relations. “We will continue to work with friends on serious partnerships that will guarantee Iraq achieving economic reform and sustainable development, as we planned in the government programme,” he said.
French company TotalEnergies signed a $10 billion contract with Baghdad in 2021, but work on several projects has yet to begin. These include the construction of oil and gas processing facilities with the capacity for electricity production, as well as a one-gigawatt photovoltaic power plant.
President Macron has visited Iraq twice since taking office in 2017 and recently stated that Baghdad must follow a path that is not “dictated from outside”.
Why are France and Iraq improving ties now?
France likely wants to strengthen its relationship with Iraq for a variety of reasons. Economic ties between the two countries could be a factor, as the agreements signed during Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani’s visit to Paris reportedly include efforts to enhance bilateral relations in areas such as renewable energy, anti-corruption, security, and culture. Additionally, France may see potential opportunities for French companies to gain contracts and provide expertise in infrastructure projects in Iraq. There may also be political reasons for France to strengthen ties with Iraq, such as a desire to maintain influence in the region and support Iraq’s stability.
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