Iraq has expressed interest in buying high-tech weapons from France, following a visit by the French foreign minister.

According to Australia’s The Daily Telegraph, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki raised the issue in talks with visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, during a two-day visit to Iraq.

Much of Iraq’s air force and military equipment was destroyed during the 2003 US-led invasion.

The army, which relies on US military firepower in combating militants, has a few Soviet-era battle tanks and armoured personnel carriers.

“Iraq needs weapons from different origins and the prime minister expressed Iraq’s willingness to import sophisticated weapons from France for both military and security forces,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh says.

He did not say what equipment the Iraqi Government was interested in buying from France.

The government has said in the past it needs helicopters, tanks, artillery and personnel carriers to supply its army and police in order to take over security from departing US and coalition forces.

France, which takes over the EU’s rotating presidency next month, has said it will lead a drive for greater EU involvement in rebuilding Iraq and has offered to host reconciliation talks.

By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh