PARIS (AFP) – Iraqi President Jalal Talabani told business leaders in Paris that he wanted to see the French energy giant Total working in his country’s oil fields.
“We might favour a French bid whatever the figures. Don’t fear this auction. … The figures aren’t everything,” he said during a state visit to France. “We want to see Total work in our oil fields.”
A senior Total executive confirmed that the company was preparing bids for an upcoming second round auction for two fields in Iraq.
Talabani was on Tuesday treated to full ceremonial honours as he arrived at the Elysee palace for his first full state visit featuring a meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy and a dinner given in his honour.
The pomp and circumstance for Talabani in Paris came after Sarkozy paid a brief visit to Baghdad in February and confirmed a shift in France, the country that led international opposition to the US-led invasion in 2003.
Since Sarkozy took power in 2007 there have been several exchanges of visits between the two capitals as France attempts to return to its status of Iraq’s main business partner.