BAGHDAD, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his visiting French counterpart Francois Fillon said in a joint statement on Thursday that the two sides signed a cooperation agreement to promote bilateral economic, cultural and scientific relations.
According to the statement, the agreement stated that France committed to support Iraq to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to conclude a partnership agreement with the European Union.
The visiting guest is heading a high-level delegation of 30 French business executives, including head of Total oil company and head of European aerospace EADS.
After the two leaders held talks in Maliki's office, they met reporters at a joint news conference, during which the French PM confirmed the presence of his country's firms in Iraq and the intention to enhance cooperation with the country.
"The team accompanying me represent major French companies. We already have firms working in Iraq in airports and transportation sector," Fillon told reporters.
"We have signed an agreement to protect French investments in Iraq and offices of our firms will soon be opened in Baghdad," he said.
For his part Maliki called on French firms to take part in rebuilding Iraq in various fields, particularly, with the improvement of security in the country.
"The French delegation and representatives of French firms which wish to work in Baghdad after being forced to be absent. Now they are here because that force is not exist anymore," Maliki said.
Fillon and his delegation arrived earlier in the day in Baghdad and was officially received by Maliki and his senior officials at Baghdad airport.
He is expected to fly to Sulaimaniyah, 330 km northeast of Baghdad, to meet with the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
The visit came just two days after the U.S. troops pulled back from Iraqi cities and towns, according to an agreement signed between Baghdad and Washington late last year.