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German official visits Iraq

Feb. 17, 2009 at 8:10 PM

BERLIN, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with Iraqi leaders Tuesday as part of his two-day visit to Baghdad, officials said.

Deutsche Welle reported Steinmeier's visit to the war-torn country was a surprise. His visit marks the first time a German foreign minister has visited Iraq in 22 years.

"We extend our hand to the new Iraq," Steinmeier was quoted as saying after arriving in Baghdad. "This is our way of helping the new Iraq on its path toward democratic consolidation and peaceful reconciliation between religions and ethnicities."

Steinmeier met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. He also officially opened an economic information office in the Iraqi capital.

"German companies won't have to undertake any special efforts in order to establish themselves here," al-Maliki said. "They used to be very active here and enjoy a fine reputation."

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