Iraq opening of the country's national book fair
Nouri al-Maliki wants Iraq to be the cultural centre of the Arab world.
The Iraqi Prime Minister was speaking at the opening of the country's national book fair, an event featuring 94 publishing houses from six countries in the Middle East.
Al-Maliki stressed the importance of literature to the future of Iraq, suggesting that the fair showed a "new sense of freedom" and something to build on. "Iraqi culture and literature is a priority for us, unlike the previous regime which banned books. There are now more opportunities for publication, distribution and presentation in Iraq."
The Prime Minister said book fairs are a key part of transforming Iraq into a developed country, and encouraged the hosting of similar events all year round.
The fair was held in cooperation with Lebanese publishing company Sada al-Arif. The fair's manager Sadiq Hussien Sultan said six countries played their part: "There was Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iran. Overall, one Iraqi publishing company and 94 Arab publishing firms took part."
Al-Maliki toured the fair, meeting publishers and companies for feedback.