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French president to take part in regional security conference in Iraq’s Baghdad

Published: Updated:

French President Emmanuel Macron will take part at the end of the month in a conference on regional security in Baghdad that the Iraqi government will organize, the presidential palace said on Monday.

It issued a statement shortly after a phone call between Macron and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s office has said Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman have been invited, although an exact date has not been announced.

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Baghdad has not said whether President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran would attend.

Iraq is seeking to establish itself as a mediator between Arab countries and Iran, after reportedly hosting talks in April between rival regional powers Tehran and Riyadh.

Macron told Kadhimi in a phone call that he planned to visit Iraq to attend the conference, Kadhimi’s office said.

It would be Macron’s second visit to the country in less than a year.

Iraq, which has been an arena for bitter rivalry between the US and Iran, has been attempting to act as a regional mediator since defeating the Sunni extremist Islamic State group in 2017.

In recent months Baghdad has hosted senior Iranian and Saudi officials in efforts to restore their relations, which collapsed in 2016.

A rebuilding of ties between the two regional heavyweights would benefit Iraq, which regularly sees rocket attacks by pro-Iranian groups, something Iraqi officials say Iran regularly uses as leverage in negotiations.

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