Finland reopens Iraq embassy after hiatus of nearly 30 years

HELSINKI (AP) — Finland said it is reopening its embassy in Iraq and sending an ambassador to Baghdad after a hiatus of nearly 30 years to re-establish bilateral ties, help in the country’s reconstruction and boost trade.

Repatriating thousands of Iraqis who are staying illegally in Finland after rejection of their asylum applications remains a thorny issue between the countries.

Some 20,000 Iraqi migrants arrived in Finland in 2015. Finnish Ambassador Vesa Hakkinen told The Associated Press yesterday, a day before taking up his new post, that the Nordic country and European Union member ceased its diplomatic presence in Iraq in the wake of the Gulf War in January 1991.

Finland’s embassy will have an initial staff of four and be located in a Baghdad building that also houses the Swedish embassy.