UK-based Standard Chartered opens branch in Iraq

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BAGHDAD (AP) - British bank Standard Chartered PLC says it has opened a branch in Iraq's capital, Baghdad and that it hopes to play a role in the country's economic growth.

A statement said Wednesday that the main aim is to meet the increasing banking needs of its multinational clients in Iraq and to support large government projects. It says a second branch will be opened next month in the self-ruled northern Kurdish region and a third will be opened in 2014 in the oil-rich southern city of Basra.

The move came nearly five months after U.S.-based Citigroup Inc. opened an office in Baghdad.

Iraq has been struggling to attract Western companies outside the oil sector since the U.S.-led invasion. Security worries and political infighting have been the major concerns of foreign firms.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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