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Neutral countries host UK/Iraqi meetings

KEY IRAQI engineers, government officials and clients are to be flown to the safety of neutral countries to make contact with British firms seeking reconstruction work.

The plan is being pushed by the British government's Iraqi Industry Working Group as the security situation in Iraq worsens.

Negotiations over the move are under way between the UK Department for International Development and the US Department of Commerce, said British Consultants & Construction Bureau (BCCB) chief executive Colin Adams.

There is a long queue of UK firms wishing to visit Iraq with the working group in the hope of building bridges with key people.

But the government and the working group both advise against large group visits to Iraq as they are difficult to protect against attack, said Adams.

Plans are being laid to bring Iraqi health sector figures together with British firms at a health care trade fair in Dubai later this year.

The BCCB, business lobby group CBI and the Middle East Association are pushing for meetings on oil and gas, telecoms, power and water.

They are also trying to arrange visits by Iraqi industry figures to the UK.

In the longer term, the UK Department of Trade & Industry is looking at the feasibility of establishing an office in Baghdad.

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