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French President Emmanuel Macron has sought to reaffirm Iraqi sovereignty on his first trip to the country.
- In a joint press conference with Iraqi President Barham Salih on his arrival in Baghdad, Macron said that Iraq's sovereignty must be respected, and that for too long the country's gov't had been 'weakened' by foreign interference.
- The new gov't of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has sought to improve Iraq's relations with major western powers following a period of deterioration under former prime ministers Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Haider al-Abadi. Macron is the first foreign head of state to visit under the Kadhimi gov't.
- Establishing a good relationship with new Iraqi gov't and ensuring its stability is seen as a key objective for many western gov'ts in countering the influence of Iran and Russia within the Middle East.
- Macron also reaffirmed France's commitment to helping Baghdad counter the remnants of the Islamic State that remain active in the north of the country.