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Haavisto meets with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad

The foreign minister is formally re-opening the Finnish Embassy in Baghdad after a gap of nearly three decades.

Pekka Haavisto has been foreign minister since mid-2019, after previously ministerial stints overseeing international development and the environment. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Finland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday that Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto was in Iraq on a previously-unannounced visit.

The ministry said that Haavisto was in the country to meet Iraqi leaders and officially reopen the Finnish embassy in Baghdad, without more specific details.

"For security reasons, we will provide more information about the visit afterwards," the ministry said in a statement.

The Finnish Embassy in Baghdad has been operating since last autumn. The former embassy closed in 1991.

Haavisto is also to meet with representatives of the Finnish Crisis Management Force in Iraq. It is part of the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), aimed against Isis.

"Counter-terrorism as part of international operations in Iraq strengthens Finland’s security," the ministry said, adding that the main purpose of the visit is to establish relations with Iraq’s new government, which took office in June.

At home, Haavisto faces a probe into his handling of the repatriation of Finnish Isis family members who were held at a camp in Syria. Two women and their children returned to Finland via Turkey last month.