Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker on First Visit to EU Country since Embargo
The speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Saadoun Hammadi, began a four-day visit to France on Tuesday, in his first visit to an EU country since an international embargo was imposed on Iraq in 1990.
Hammadi, considered one of the closest associates of President Saddam Hussein, is due to meet a senior official in the foreign ministry, Loic Hennekinne, on Thursday.
The meeting will focus on relations between France and Iraq but also those between Iraq and the UN Security Council, said foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret.
France has repeatedly warned of the serious humanitarian consequences of UN trade sanctions imposed on Iraq since the Gulf War.
Under an oil-for-food programme introduced in December 1996, Baghdad has been able to sell oil to buy essential products under the monitoring of the international community.
Hammadi, who was elected last month for a third term as speaker of parliament, was invited to France by senator Serge Mathieu, president of the France-Iraq friendship group.
A meeting with Christian Poncelet, president of France's upper house of parliament, the Senate, is due to take place on Wednesday -- PARIS (AFP)
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