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UK-based Standard Chartered opens 1st branch in Iraq, hopes to play role in economic growth

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.