Bernard Kouchner has become the first French foreign minister to visit Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Kouchner flew into Baghdad, saying he had been invited by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. The French minister reaffirmed France’s opposition to the US-led occupation of the country. “This is an Iraqi problem. It must be solved by Iraqis and, according to my understanding and President Sarkozy’s views, there is no military solution, only a political solution,” he said.
Kouchner was thought one of the few French politicians to criticise former President Jacques Chirac for doing too little to oust Saddam Hussein, and his visit may signal the start of a more pro-active French policy in the region. His first act on arrival was to visit the memorial to his personal friend Sergio Vieira de Mello and other United Nations workers killed by a truck bomb attack four years ago.