On a recent visit to the Iraqi capital, accompanied by four French MPs and 20 representatives from French companies, Mr Estrosi said it was time for companies to return to the country.

Iraqi prime minister Nuri Al Maliki has said the Iraqi government would give preferential treatment by awarding contracts to foreign companies that set up offices in the country. Iraq boasts the world’s third largest oil reserves and France is keen to tap into this market.

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“Today it is possible, as long as certain security conditions are respected, [to] return to Baghdad to do business,” said Mr Estrosi.