By PAMELA SAMPSON
Associated Press Writer
PARIS (AP) - France became the latest nation to re-establish diplomatic ties with Iraq, hoisting its tricolor flag over the French Embassy in Baghdad on Monday for the first time in 13 years.
The French government adamantly opposed the U.S.-led invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein but wants to play an active part in Iraq's political and economic reconstruction after decades of oppression and war.
The two nations planned to exchange ambassadors soon, the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
``The two governments are convinced this decision will contribute to closer ties between France and Iraq and will intensify exchanges to the greater benefit of the two countries,'' the statement said.
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Iraq is a sovereign nation now and the French see an opening to primary contracts for infrastructure services and other opportunites reserved for the "Coalition of the Willing". Within a year, they'll be rebuilding the oil infrastructure and the Germans will be helping them. After all, they were dealing with Saddam right up until the UN inspectors left last year. Unlike Bush, they know the land and the people. But now they don't have to deal with the Coalition Provisional Authority. Well, that's if Bush doesn't raid the rest of the Iraqi treasury before they leave.