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France vows to help Iraq build medical centers

  • Story Highlights
  • French official reportedly says France to help develop heart surgery centers
  • Roadside bomb kills U.S. soldier in Baghdad
  • Blast near Iranian Embassy in Baghdad kills two people, wounds five
  • Two U.S. troops injured after military helicopter crashes south of capital
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- France will help Iraq build better medical centers as well as give aid to equip and train Iraqi security forces, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told Iraqi officials during a weekend visit.

Kouchner -- a physician and founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders -- arrived Saturday in Baghdad on his second official visit to Iraq as France's foreign minister.

He met Sunday with his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. He also met Shiite Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi on Saturday.

France has allowed Iraqi patients to be treated at its hospitals, and Kouchner expressed his desire to help develop heart surgery centers in Iraq, according to a statement from al-Maliki's office.

The Iraqi prime minister suggested to Kouchner that his country help Iraq open a children's heart surgery center at Baghdad's Ibn Al-Bitar Hospital, the statement said.

Al-Maliki also discussed Iraq's wish to provide the Iraqi armed forces with new French weapons.

Al-Maliki assured Kouchner that "we are heading toward rebuilding, reconstruction and improvement of services."

Other developments

• Iraqi security forces Sunday picked up 49 suspects in Anbar province as part of their investigation into a suicide attack that killed nine people, the U.S. military said. The suspects are being questioned about possible links to the bombing near a government complex in the town of Hit. Five civilians died, including a 3-year-old.

• A car bomb killed two people Sunday and wounded five others when it exploded near the Iranian Embassy in central Baghdad, the Interior Ministry said. Also, a U.S. military helicopter crashed south of Baghdad, wounding two American soldiers, the military said. The military said mechanical failure may have caused the crash.

• In a separate incident, a U.S. soldier died Sunday in a roadside bomb attack in northeastern Baghdad, the U.S. military said, adding that the bomb used the same type of explosive that is manufactured in Iran and used by militants in Iraq.

The death marks 4,087 U.S. military personnel who have died in the Iraq war. Twenty-one American personnel died in May -- the lowest monthly death toll of the year.

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