German Foreign Minister in Surprise Visit to Iraq

AFP reports that German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle (pictured), made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Saturday and held talks with Iraqi leaders to promote trade and voice concern over attacks against minority Christians.

Westerwelle met his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, and parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, and was due to see President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, officials and the German foreign ministry said.

“We want to send a signal that we support the stabilisation of Iraq and the continuation of the democratic process,” Westerwelle said, according to a statement released by the ministry.

Zebari hailed Westerwelle’s visit, saying during their talks that it “sent a signal to other countries,” a source close to the German delegation said.

He spoke of the complexity of the situation in Iraq, called for economic engagement alongside political dialogue, and said German companies were welcome in Iraq.

The trio also discussed Iraq’s political situation, with a months-long impasse finally giving way last month to a power-sharing deal that saw Maliki renamed premier but no new government yet formed.

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