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Citigroup is first US bank to open Baghdad office

BAGHDAD — Citigroup Inc. is set to become the first American bank to open an office of its own in Baghdad, highlighting financial firms’ growing interest in Iraq a decade after the US-led 2003 invasion.

Executives say the representative office that Citi has received preliminary approval for will help support its corporate customers in Iraq and act as a liaison for companies looking to do business there.

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British bank Standard Chartered is also making a push in Iraq.

‘‘Essentially what we are doing is following our clients,’’ said Mayank Malik, Citi’s chief executive for Jordan and Iraq. ‘‘We see this as a giant waking up.”

Iraq has struggled to attract interest from Western companies outside of the oil sector in the 10 years since US-led forces toppled dictator Saddam Hussein. Security and political instability remain major concerns. Even so, foreign banks see opportunities as Iraq’s economy opens up on the back of an oil boom.

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