Officials say the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq declined in May to the lowest monthly total since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.
The U.S. military said Sunday that 19 American service members were killed in Iraq last month, the lowest number since February 2004, when 20 deaths were recorded. One U.S. soldier was killed Sunday in a Baghdad bomb attack -- the first death so far in June. Iraqi authorities say violent deaths of Iraqi civilians and security forces also fell sharply in May, to about 550, compared to more than one thousand in April.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on a visit to Baghdad Sunday that he believes Iraq's security situation is improving. Kouchner also said the French government will see if French industries can help Iraq with development projects. Kouchner later traveled to the northern Iraqi city of Irbil to inaugurate a French diplomatic office.
Also Sunday, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani told Reuters news agency that Iraqi oil exports have risen to a five-year high.