France to host Iraq conference

PARIS (AFP) - France will host an international conference on Iraq on September 15 and President Francois Hollande will visit the beleaguered country on Friday, his office said.

A statement from the French presidency said Hollande would visit Iraq, which is grappling with an offensive by Islamic State jihadists, to prepare for next Monday's conference in Paris.

"With the agreement of the Iraqi authorities, the president has confirmed that an international conference on the peace and security of Iraq will take place in Paris on September 15," the statement said. "It will bring together the international and regional partners who share this goal and who are helping to bring it about."

The conference will be inaugurated by Hollande and Iraqi President Fuad Masum.

The brutal IS militants have seized much of Iraq's Sunni heartland and rocked the Iraqi government, leading to the departure under US pressure of Nuri al-Maliki as prime minister.

During his visit Hollande will pledge France's support for the fight against Islamic State, the statement said.