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European Airline Sets Sights on Baghdad

French Minister of Foreign Trade Anne Marie Idrac disembarks from France's Aigle Azur airlines plane in Baghdad, Iraq, 31 Oct 2010

A commercial airplane taking off from Western Europe has landed in Iraq for the first time in nearly 20 years. The plane, operated by France's Aigle Azur airline, took off from Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris late Saturday and touched down at Baghdad International Airport early Sunday.

Officials said this first flight was largely ceremonial, and that most of the passengers were French diplomats and business leaders.

One of the passengers, French Foreign Trade Minister Anne-Marie Idrac, called it a historic day for cooperation between France and Iraq.

Regular service between Paris and Baghdad is not expected to start for at least several weeks. Aigle Azur is just one of a number of airlines to start flying to Baghdad.

Etihad and Emirates airlines, both operating out of the United Arab Emirates, started flying to Baghdad earlier this year.