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France President extends support to Iraq in fight against terrorism

BAGHDAD: French President Francois Hollande on Friday met Iraq’s new leaders in Baghdad and pledged his support to Iraq in the fight against terrorism, media reported.

In a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Masoum, Hollande said his visit to Baghdad was an expression of solidarity with Iraq, and added that “we are cooperating with Iraq in security and political field to confront the common enemy,” Xinhua reported citing official television.

Hollande said France has decided to call for an international conference in Paris next Monday which is aimed at coordinating the support efforts that would ensure Iraq’s unity and fight against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

On his part, Masoum thanked Hollande for his efforts to hold an international conference to support Iraq in fighting terrorism and wished that “the relationship between Iraq and France will always be friendly.”

Later, Hollande met Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and discussed bilateral relations and the topics that would be covered by the planned conference.

Hollande is also expected to meet parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri as well as other Iraqi officials before he travels to Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan to meet Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani, according to media reports.

Iraq is witnessing a worsening security situation that began in June when armed Sunni insurgents, spearheaded by the IS, launched a surprise offensive that led to the debacle of Iraqi security forces and the fall of a large part of the country's northern and western territories.