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France To Host Iraq Conference; Kerry Heads To Mideast

The French presidency says Paris will host an international conference on Iraq on September 15 and that President Francois Hollande will visit Baghdad on September 12.

A presidency statement said Hollande would visit Iraq, which is grappling with an offensive by Islamic State (IS) jihadists, to prepare for the conference.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry headed to the Middle East on September 9 to launch a diplomatic offensive aimed at building a coalition against IS.

Kerry will visit Jordan and then head to Saudi Arabia for two days of meetings involving officials from Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and the six countries which comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The start of his trip will coincide with a September 10 speech by President Barack Obama in which he has vowed to set out a strategy to defeat IS.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP