PARIS –French President Emmanuel Macron and Iraq Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi highlighted the importance of the fight against terrorism following a meeting in Paris, a statement from Macron’s office said on Tuesday.
Macron hosted the meeting on Monday, which followed the French leader’s own trip to Iraq in September, when he expressed his support for Iraq’s sovereignty and said Iraq’s main challenges were ISIS extremists and foreign interference in its affairs.
The statement from the French president’s office also said the two leaders had also welcomed French group Alstom’s plans to work on a Baghdad metro project.
Soon after the meeting, Macron tweeted a picture of himself and Kadhimi.
“France continues its commitment to stand by Iraq in the fight against terrorism and in support of respect for its sovereignty. We will defeat evil at its roots. I would like to thank Aziz Mustafa al-Kadhimi for reviewing the initiative that we launched together a month after my visit to Baghdad,” the French president said in his tweet.
Kadhimi arrived in Paris Monday at the start of a European tour that takes him to France, Germany and the UK as Iraq strives for economic, security and health aid.
Last September, during a visit to Iraq, Macron steered clear of the subject of Iran and its proxy militias.
Macron’s statements in Baghdad were full of expressions of support for Iraq and its full sovereignty over its territory, which Iraqis interpreted as a rejection of any repeat of Turkish incursions inside Iraq and a condemnation of the attacks by pro-Iranian Shia groups on airports, diplomatic missions and military camps.
The French president, however, tended to be vague on these subjects just as he was during his visit to Lebanon, where he avoided criticising Iran or its proxy, Hezbollah.
At the time, an Iraqi official told The Arab Weekly that Macron’s references to “Iraqi sovereignty” constituted an indirect message to Turkey.
Observers believe that Paris is moving according to a strategy that contradicts Washington’s positions against Iran and its proxies in the region, and that it places French interests above any other international understandings.