At the start of a two-day trip to Iraq, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Baghdad this morning (17 February).
In the course of the day, the Federal Foreign Minister will conduct talks with the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and his counterpart, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Talks with Human Rights Minister Wijdan Salim and Christian clergy are also planned.
The visit, the first by a German Foreign Minister to Iraq since 1987, will focus on the future shape of German-Iraqi relations, as well as the current situation in Iraq and the region.
Before his departure, Federal Minister Steinmeier said in Berlin:
"During the last few months, the Iraqi Government has made important progress towards establishing political stability in the country. My trip shows that we want to help this new Iraq consolidate democracy and foster peace among religions and ethnic communities."
Germany wants to assist Iraq's reconstruction and to further extend its current commitment. Federal Minister Steinmeier will therefore put forward concrete proposals on close and comprehensive cooperation, inter alia in the economic and education spheres, to his Iraqi interlocutors, and open the Commercial Service Office in Baghdad. The Office is being established at the initiative of the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and is to help deal with the economic impact of the war in Iraq by establishing business contacts with Germany.
The Federal Foreign Minister will be accompanied on his trip by representatives of German companies and cultural institutions.