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France pledges 1B euros in aid to rebuild Iraq

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Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim, right, shakes hands with visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Ali Abdul Hassan)

BAGHDAD (AP) — France is committing $1 billion euros ($1.15 billion) to help Iraq rebuild after its war against the Islamic State group, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday.

Le Drian was in Baghdad on a busy day that also saw Iraq's top officials receiving King Abdullah II of Jordan.

The French diplomat said the aid would go to rebuilding Iraq's most devastated areas.

He also promised that France would support Iraq's stability, while seeking a rapid "political exit" from Syria, where France has deployed an estimated 200 troops in the battle against the extremist group.

"The situation in Syria has to stabilize, and we have to eliminate terrorism," Le Drian said at a press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim

France is a member of the U.S.-led international coalition that has defeated the group in most of its territory in Iraq and Syria.

U.S. President Donald Trump surprised allies last month when he announced he was pursuing a complete military withdrawal from Syria.

On Saturday, the U.S. began pulling equipment, but not troops, out of the country. An estimated 2,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Syria.

Iraq's Planning Ministry last year estimated the cost of reconstruction at $88 billion. The country was able to raise $30 billion at a donor conference in Kuwait in February.

Alhakim thanked France for its assistance to Iraq's minority Yezidi community. Islamic State militants enslaved and killed thousands of Yezidis during their brief reign in north Iraq earlier this decade.

King Abdullah II met with Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi. It was his first visit to the country in a decade. The king and prime minister discussed regional and bilateral issues, Abul-Mahdi's office said in a statement.

Iraqi President Barham Salih, right, shakes hands with visiting Jordanian King Abdullah II, left, in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Iraqi President Barham Salih, right, meets with visiting Jordanian King Abdullah II, left, in the office of the Iraq Presidency  at Salam Palace in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Iraqi President Barham Salih, right, shakes hands with visiting Jordanian King Abdullah II, left, in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Iraqi President Barham Salih, right, shakes hands with visiting Jordanian King Abdullah II, left, in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim, right, shakes hands with visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Ali Abdul Hassan)
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim, right, shakes hands with visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Ali Abdul Hassan)
Iraqi President Barham Salih, right, meets with visiting Jordanian King Abdullah II, left, in the office of the Iraq Presidency  at Salam Palace in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Iraqi President Barham Salih, right, meets with visiting Jordanian King Abdullah II, left, in the office of the Iraq Presidency at Salam Palace in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)