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Iraq's interim government has been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council and recognized by several countries, including the U.S., Australia, Britain, and Kuwait. Now, France says it will establish relations with Iraq and participate in the country’s political and economic reconstruction. Diplomatic relations between France and Iraq were broken off at the start of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Since 1996, France has been represented in Iraq through the Romanian embassy in Baghdad.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says that France’s recognition of Iraq’s sovereign government is “a good development”:

“We welcome that.... But we do think it’s time for all governments to work with the new government in Iraq and support the new government in Iraq and we welcome signs that France is interested in doing that.”

Iraq is seeking to develop strong ties with countries in Europe. Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s new foreign minister, met in Brussels with the foreign ministers of the twenty-five nations of the European Union.

The European Union has pledged more than three-hundred-seventy-million dollars in humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Iraq this year. Foreign Minister Zebari says that he would like the European Union to play an even bigger role in Iraq:

“We have requested, in fact, a more political visibility of the E-U in Iraq, and even to the extent that an office of the E-U in Baghdad would be most welcome by the Iraqi people.”

Iraqi efforts to rebuild and democratize are being attacked by foreign terrorists and by insurgents from the fallen regime of Saddam Hussein. But Iraq's new leaders have made their position clear. As Prime Minister Iyad Allawi puts it, “The insurgents are trying to destroy our country, and we're not going to allow this.”