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Straw makes surprise visit to Iraq - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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BAGHDAD (Reuters)-British Foreign Minister Jack Straw and senior European Union officials made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Thursday to discuss plans for a conference on Iraq to be held in Brussels later this month.

An official in Iraqi President Jalal Talabani”s office said Straw and Talabani met for about 45 minutes, with talks focusing on arrangements for the U.S.-backed June 22 conference, which will look at reconstruction and development in postwar Iraq.

An EU delegation was also present, including foreign affairs commissioner Javier Solana, external affairs commissioner Bettina Ferrero-Waldner and Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, the official said. Luxembourg currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

&#34President Talabani confirmed that Iraq will send a 40-member delegation to the conference, including senior government ministers,&#34 a spokeswoman in Talabani”s office said.

A spokeswoman at the British embassy in Baghdad confirmed Straw was in the country. It is his first visit since the formation of a new Shi”ite-led government late last month.

He is also due to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari and other senior government officials and hold a news conference later in the day.