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French Foreign Minister Visits Iraq


French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is in Iraq for two days of talks with Iraqi officials.

French officials say the visit is part of France's effort to re-engage Iraq and offer help in the rebuilding process.

Kouchner arrived in Nasiriyah Saturday to start his visit, hours after the southeastern city was hit with a rocket attack by militants.

He met with Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi and also plans to hold talks with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Kouchner is expected to open a new French diplomatic office Sunday in the northern city of Irbil.

In violence Saturday, officials say three people were killed and seven others wounded in a roadside bombing in the central Iraqi town of Baquba.

In another development, U.S. led forces in Baghdad said today they have captured a senior leader of what they called a "Special Groups criminal ring." The special groups designation is used by the military to describe Shi'ite insurgents backed by Iran.

The U.S. military says coalition forces also captured two men with suspected ties to al-Qaida in Iraq in operations today and Friday near Baghdad.

A separate statement says a Marine died Friday in a non-combat related incident in Iraq. The statement does not give the location of the Marine's death.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.


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