By Patrick Donahue
Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier began a two-day visit to Iraq, the latest European politician to signal a mending of ties with President Barack Obama over the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Steinmeier’s unannounced visit, the first by a German foreign minister in 22 years, comes a week after French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s surprise trip to Baghdad. The German envoy will hold talks with officials including Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
“We want to support this new Iraq on the path to democratic consolidation and peaceful reconciliation between religion and ethnicity,” Steinmeier said before his trip, according to an e-mailed statement today from the Foreign Ministry.
Sarkozy’s visit underscored renewed relations between the U.S. and France, which opposed the 2003 invasion spurring tensions with the Bush administration. Germany also rejected the Iraq war under former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, for whom Steinmeier served as chief of staff.