Iraq and the Czech Republic hailed their “historic” relations as the two countries launched meetings on Thursday to boost bilateral relations in all fields.
The Czech Republic’s Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky arrived in Baghdad with a commercial delegation representing 15 Czech companies.
“Iraqi-Czech relations can be traced back to 90 years since the establishment of the State of Iraq,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein told a joint press conference with the Czech Republic’s foreign minister.
“These relations went through different stages, but in all these stages the Czech government supported the Iraqi people.
“The economic and trade relations were a focal point in our discussions,” he added.
Representatives of the Czech companies are set to discuss opportunities with the Iraqi private sector at a business forum in Baghdad.
Mr Lipavsky said “both countries have the capability to boost the trade exchange and economic growth”.
He expressed his government's readiness to develop ties “through our companies, especially in the field of defence industry in order to improve the security situation”.
The Czech Foreign Minister was also scheduled to meet Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid and Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani.
Baghdad and Prague have a long history of co-operation, mainly in the military and energy fields. Czech troops were part of the US-led international coalition that ended Saddam Hussein’s regime and were also a part of the Nato mission to Iraq.
Iraq endured decades of war, UN-imposed economic sanctions, and political and security instability following the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam.
The 2014-2017 war with ISIS left large areas of the north and west in ruins, and millions of Iraqis remain without access to clean water, adequate electricity supply and proper health care.
In early 2018, Iraq appealed for around $88 billion for reconstruction at an international donor summit in Kuwait, however, it has since fallen short of its target with countries pledging $30bn in loans and investment.