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French FM heads to Baghdad for talks

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French FM heads to Baghdad for talks
Kurdish fighters near the town of Makhmur, Iraq. Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP
10:38 CEST+02:00
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is travelling to Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil for talks with Iraqi leaders, his ministry said Sunday.

Fabius, who left France early Sunday, will meet with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari in the capital before flying to Arbil in the country's north where US forces have launched air strikes against Islamic extremists.

In Arbil, Fabius will hold talks with Iraqi Kurdish president Massud Barzani and oversee the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians who have fled the advance of the Islamist fighters.

France will begin delivery of first aid equipment to Iraq "in the coming hours", the president's office said on Saturday.

President Francois Hollande assured the leader of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, by phone that the aid was on its way, according to a statement from the Elysée Palace.

Hollande "reaffirmed the will of France to stand by the side of civilian victims of continued attacks" by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, the Elysée said.

He also "underlined his determination to mobilise the international community and said he had asked the European Union to take necessary measures with great urgency to respond to immediate humanitarian needs."

The UN Security Council on Thursday called on the international community to support the Iraqi government as it tries to counter the sweeping gains made by IS in the north of the country.

Hollande echoed statements from US President Barack Obama that the crisis required political solutions, saying there was an urgent need for "a government of national unity" to be established in Iraq.

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