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Norwegian Foreign Minister on Iraq trip

Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide was on Tuesday in Baghdad in talks with Iraqi President Barham Salih, while visiting Norwegian soldiers in the country.

The main purpose of the journey, which had not been announced in advance, is to strengthen Norway’s relationship with Iraq.

On Tuesday morning, Eriksen met Søreide the President and Deputy Foreign Minister Nazer al-Kairallah, as well as the UN Special Envoy for Iraq Hennis Plasschaert.

– It was good conversations. After all, we are a partner to Iraq, who really wants to have a commitment beyond the fight against ISIL. We both want to continue and develop the relationship, and we spend a lot of resources on both stabilization measures and humanitarian efforts. We will continue to do so and at the same time form the basis for further partnerships in other areas, says Eriksen Søreide to NTB.

Visited Norwegian soldiers

The Foreign Minister also used the Iraq visit to greet the Norwegian soldiers who are stationed in the country. The Norwegian forces are located in Anbar province, in the western part of Iraq. There they train and give advice to the Iraqi army in the fight against the extremist group IS.

– It is always nice to visit those who serve for Norway. They make a big and important effort, says Eriksen Søreide.

The Norwegian personnel in Iraq, which includes a total of 60 people, is currently in a switch phase. They will now return home to Norway, to be replaced by a new group.

The main purpose of the journey, which had not been announced in advance, is to strengthen Norway’s relationship with Iraq.

On Tuesday morning, Eriksen met Søreide the President and Deputy Foreign Minister Nazer al-Kairallah, as well as the UN Special Envoy for Iraq Hennis Plasschaert.

– It was good conversations. After all, we are a partner to Iraq, who really wants to have a commitment beyond the fight against ISIL. We both want to continue and develop the relationship, and we spend a lot of resources on both stabilization measures and humanitarian efforts. We will continue to do so and at the same time form the basis for further partnerships in other areas, says Eriksen Søreide to NTB.

IS not fought

US President Donald Trump declared last year that IS was defeated in Syria and announced that US forces would withdraw from the country. Eriksen Søreide was among those who, along with the UK and France, warned about the risk of withdrawing. Last week, a US intelligence report found that IS still has thousands of warriors under its command in both Syria and Iraq.

– When I visited the Norwegian forces today I was informed about the situation. Analyzes show that ISIL is still not combated, and there is still a considerable risk that they can return to the areas that are now released, says Eriksen Søreide, who uses the term ISIL about IS.

She goes straight from Iraq to Washington, where she will attend the International Coalition Meeting against IS. The Foreign Minister believes that the role of the USA is important, also for countries such as Norway participating in the coalition.

– We must sit down to look at the situation ahead in both Iraq and Syria. That is precisely why we want to strengthen the bilateral ties with Iraq and try to help the Iraqi community to become viable again after ISIL is defeated, “said the Foreign Minister.

(© NTB)

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