In Rudaw 

Macron warns of enduring ISIS threat ahead of Baghdad summit

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday morning reaffirmed France’s support in Iraq’s fight against terror during a visit to Baghdad, warning that the Islamic State (ISIS) remains a threat.

“We all know that we must not lower our guard, because Daesh [ISIS] remains a threat, and I know that the fight against these terrorist groups is a priority of your government,” he said in the presser with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Macron is in Iraq for the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership, a summit held in coordination with France that will bring together nine regional countries. Macron arrived early on Saturday and was welcomed by PM Kadhimi at Baghdad International Airport.

Both countries are “working on economic cooperation and partnership in the fields of power, oil, development, education, and health,” Kadhimi said in the joint press conference.

Macron reiterated France’s commitment to supporting Iraq, noting that his country has allocated a budget to support the stability of areas liberated from ISIS.

He also met with President Barham Salih where they discussed cooperation and strengthening relations between the two countries.

“France continues to stand with Iraq in the face of challenges,” Macron said in a press conference with Salih, noting that economic cooperation with Iraq is essential.

Iraq is holding the regional conference after years of conflict and foreign influence within its borders, hoping the summit will bolster its standing as a regional mediator, as well as creating economic and social ties.

The leaders of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates all arrived to Baghdad on Saturday afternoon.

Macron noted that holding the conference is an important step in setting the framework for “joint cooperation in the fight against terrorism.”

He also expressed his support for the upcoming Iraqi elections scheduled for October 10.

Early elections were one of the demands of protesters who took to the streets in October 2019 across central and southern Iraq.

The Kurdistan Region will welcome the French leader in Erbil on Sunday, where he will meet with President Nechirvan Barzani and a number of top officials.

Barzani and Macron met in Paris earlier this year, where they discussed a range of issues, including the continued threat of ISIS and relations between Iraqi arm and Peshmerga.