Iraqi prime minister expected in London, seeking investment

Iraqi prime minister expected in London, seeking investment Baghdad - Iraqi Prime Minster Nuri al-Maliki is expected in London on Wednesday, the latest stop in his tour of Europe to drum up investment in his country, local media reported. The Iraqi premier, who is traveling at the head of high-level delegation of Iraqi ministers and senior officials, is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to strengthen Iraqi-British cooperation in a number fields, Baghdad's daily al-Sabah reported on Tuesday.

Al-Maliki will attend the "Invest Iraq" conference on Thursday, the newspaper said.

The parley, under the auspices of Iraq's National Investment Commission and the UK Department for International Development, is expected to attract more than 250 global companies that have indicated a willingness to work and invest in Iraq.

The Iraqi commission had previously said it would offer a map of 500 investment opportunities in 11 sectors, including petroleum, infrastructure, finance and banking services and tourism.

Al-Maliki will continue to Paris on Monday, in what the newspaper billed as the first visit of an Iraqi prime minister to France. Al- Maliki will meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon, al-Sabah reported.

The Iraqi government has said that it is interested in exploring possible purchases of French weapons to arm Iraqi security forces.

In Moscow, at the beginning of al-Maliki's week-long tour, Iraqi and Russian officials said the two countries were discussing the possibility of Russian companies' selling Iraq arms. Russia was an important arms supplier to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

During the visit, al-Maliki asked Russia to play a substantial role in the Iraqi economic recovery during a visit to Moscow.

"Iraq knows Russian companies well. They have given it comprehensive assistance in the hydrocarbon sector, in industry, trade and the military-technical sphere. We think that Russian companies can and should be our important partners at the current phase," Maliki said. (dpa)