Iraq’s President in Paris; Will Discuss French Islamic State Detainees

Iraqi President Barham Saleh awaits the arrival of the King of Spain in the capital Baghdad on January 30, 2019. - King Felipe visited special forces helping Iraq fight jihadists, during the first trip by a Spanish monarch to the war-ravaged country in four decades, a diplomat said. (Photo by …
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty

PARIS (AP) — Iraqi President Barham Saleh is on a two-day visit to France with a focus on the country’s security and the fight against the Islamic State group in the region.

Saleh will have a working lunch Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron, followed by a joint news conference. They are expected to discuss the case of French citizens who traveled to fight with IS in Iraq and Syria and are now being detained by the U.S.-led coalition’s forces.

The U.S. has called for countries to take back and try their own nationals. France’s official position states that French “terrorist” fighters “must be tried wherever they committed their crimes,” according to the French foreign affairs ministry. France considers the Iraqi legal authorities are in charge of handling the cases of IS members on their territory.

The issue of captured foreign fighters in Syria poses a major conundrum for countries whose nationals have been imprisoned in the country. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces is holding more than 900 foreign fighters in prisons it runs in the country’s north, many of them Iraqis and Europeans.

Last week, the SDF handed over more than 150 Iraqi members of the IS group to Iraq, an Iraqi security official said.

Also last week, a French diplomatic official and a SDF official said they were trying to verify reports that Fabien Clain, a Frenchman who is one of Europe’s most-wanted members of IS, was killed in an airstrike in Syria.

The French presidency said France intends to reaffirm its full support to Iraq to face challenges regarding security, stability, inclusive governance and the country’s reconstruction.

Both countries also are seeking to strengthen their economic cooperation.

France remains militarily involved in Iraq through training and logistical support of Iraqi forces and intelligence missions.

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