Canada opens diplomatic mission in Baghdad

Canada opened its first diplomatic mission in Iraq in more than two decades on Monday as Foreign Minister John Baird acknowledged his country "needs to be on the ground in Baghdad".

On a brief visit to the Iraqi capital, Baird met with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his political rival Osama al-Nujaifi, the parliament speaker, as well as inaugurated the mission, an office of the Canadian embassy in Amman that will be located on the compound of the British embassy in Baghdad.

"Ten years after the Iraqi intervention, Iraq is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, despite deep and lingering sectarian tensions," Baird said in a statement.

"Canada's trade and investment interests in Iraq have strong potential, including in the country's north, where we will expand our dialogue with leaders in Arbil.

"To pursue our interests, we know that Canada needs to be on the ground in Baghdad."

Ottawa closed its embassy in the Iraqi capital in 1990.

The Baghdad office's charge d'affaires will be Stephanie Duhaime.

While violence in Iraq remains high by international standards, it is markedly lower than its peak in 2006 and 2007, and Baghdad has sought in recent years to re-emerge on the world stage and has pushed for several countries to re-establish diplomatic missions in the country.