French Minister Visits Iraq, Forges US Bond

First visit to war-torn country is 'message of solidarity' with Iraqis
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2007 5:14 PM CDT
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, right, pays homage at a memorial at the United Nations headquarters in the Green Zone during a visit to Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007. The visit coincides...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – France tipped a symbolic hat to the US today by sending its foreign minister on a visit to Baghdad. Bernard Kouchner is the first French minister to visit Iraq since the US invasion of 2003 and comes at a time when analysts say that US-French relations are warming. Kouchner, who refused to condemn the US at the war’s outset, called the trip a “message of solidarity” with the struggling Iraqis.

The BBC says that the trip symbolizes a "clear divide" between Chirac and France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy. The French leader recently visited Bush for casual talks in Maine and is working with the US on issues involving Iran and Sudan. Sarkozy has called the Iraq war a "mistake" but also criticizes the French for being too "America-phobic."