The European Union and Iraq signed their first partnership agreement Friday, opening the way to a slew of trade and energy deals as well as improved cooperation to combat terrorism.
"We're opening a new chapter," said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton at a signing ceremony with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
"This agreement is above all a symbol of the EU's wish to be a positive partner for Iraq in its democratic efforts."
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The accord provides for regular political dialogue on bilateral, regional and global issues while improving trade arrangements and pledging cooperation in areas from health to energy.
"It is a great day for my country," said the Iraqi minister. "For the first time Iraq, which used to be a pariah nation, is being reintegrated into the international community."
"Iraq has great potential to offer to Europe."
The agreement provides for cooperation in combating terrorism, countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and promoting human rights.
The EU has contributed more than one billion euros ($1.29 billion) towards the reconstruction of Iraq since the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, with the focus on access to basic services as well as furthering democracy.