European Union foreign ministers will give formal approval on Monday to talks with Iraq's future government on a wide-ranging trade and cooperation pact, officials said on Friday.
EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner made an initial offer of talks in December, but it requires the backing of member states to go ahead. Such pacts with the EU typically aim to boost trading ties and aid domestic reforms.
"It is very important that when there is a government in office, we will be able to start working towards an agreement that will help Iraq engage with the EU at a new level," said Ferrero-Waldner's spokeswoman, Emma Udwin.
She said the pact would be vital in "advancing EU relations with Iraq, promoting bilateral trade, and stimulating and anchoring reform in the country."
Three years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the prognosis for the country's future is gloomy. While a full parliament has now met for the first time, deadlock on forming a coalition has held back efforts to stave off a civil war.
European Union states were split over the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 but have gradually acted to bolster ties with Iraqi authorities as they regain sovereignty.
The EU has granted Iraq preferential access to EU markets and supports its bid to join the World Trade Organisation.