The United States Tuesday opened the door to French companies to bid for a second wave of U.S.-funded reconstruction contracts in Iraq.
U.S. Commerce Undersecretary for International Trade Grant Aldonas, in Paris to improve U.S. trade relations with France, said he had discussed opening up the bidding with French Trade Minister Francois Loos.
"There will be a second tranche of contracts, which I expect will be opened more broadly to all comers," Aldonas told the French-American press club in Paris.
President Bush effectively punished France and other opponents of the Iraq war last year by banning them from bidding on a first wave of lucrative rebuilding projects. Bidding for the contracts began earlier this month.
The United States had sought not to discourage any country from bidding for sub-contracts for the first round of reconstruction contracts, Aldonas said, adding: "I expect that there'll be further opening of that rule as we go down the road into the second tranche of contracts."
Opening up bidding for future contracts was important to helping relations between Paris and Washington, Aldonas said.
"This is another one of those issues where, if we are going to encourage a continuing dialogue between the United States and France, these are exactly the sorts of issues that have to come on the table," he said.
Aldonas was joined on his trip to Paris by 25 U.S. entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
The visit aimed to improve trade ties between the United States and France. Relations between the two countries deteriorated when Paris opposed the U.S.-led Iraq war.