German Economy Minister Michael Glos held talks with Iraqi officials in Baghdad on Saturday, becoming the first German cabinet minister to visit since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Germany opposed the invasion but his visit is the latest sign many foreign capitals are ready to upgrade ties with Iraq.
"The German minister confirmed his country's keenness to improve political and economic ties with Iraq and that German companies are absolutely ready to rebuild Iraq," a statement from Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih's office said.
The statement urged German and Iraqi businessmen to establish a joint forum in Iraq this year.
European interest in Iraq, especially its massive energy potential, has grown. The European Union is negotiating an energy pact with Iraq, part of the bloc's efforts to reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas.
Glos has expressed alarm in recent months about the impact of higher oil prices on Germany's economic growth.
"No other country in the Middle East at the moment has such a large, untapped oil reserve," Glos was quoted as saying of Iraq in Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper due out on Sunday.
His visit comes two days after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan travelled to Baghdad. Jordan's King Abdullah is expected to visit soon.
Last Mod: 13 Temmuz 2008, 11:27