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France and Iraq sign comprehensive strategic partnership agreement

Iraqi PM Mohammed al-Sudani visits Paris

PARIS (Reuters) -French President Emmanuel Macron met with Iraq Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on Thursday, said the French presidency, signing a set of strategic agreements meant to boost Iraq's economic co-operation with Paris, especially in the energy and publics transportation sectors.

France and Iraq signed a treaty seeking to strengthen bilateral relations in anti-corruption, security, renewable energy and culture, the Elysee Palace said in a statement issued in the early hours of Friday.

"(Macron and Shia al-Sudani) have reaffirmed their commitment to complete big network infrastructures projects based on French know how (...) In that respect they have pledged to grant Iraq the expertise of French companies," the Elysee added.

"In terms of alternative energies, they showed their commitment to the implementation of TotalEnergies's multiple-energies project (...) based on solar energy and investments in gas."

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Reuters reported this week that Qatar was in talks to acquire a stake from French oil major TotalEnergies' $27 billion cluster of energy projects in Iraq, as Baghdad hopes to stem efforts by Western energy companies to exit the country.

When TotalEnergies and Baghdad in 2021 signed an agreement to build four giant solar, gas, power and water projects in southern Iraq over 25 years, hopes for an exodus reversal were high. Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP have all sought to scale back their operations in Iraq in recent years.

(Reporting by Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru and Benoit Van Overstraeten in Paris; Editing by Tom Hogue and Sudip Kar-Gupta)