The Canadian government hopes to reopen its embassy in Iraq by the end of the year, a Foreign Affairs official said Monday.

"We hope to have our doors open within the next six months – if all goes well, perhaps even sooner," said Mark Bailey, the director general for the Middle East at Foreign Affairs Canada. "But it's quite frankly going to depend very much on the evolution of the security situation."

Iraqi militants have kidnapped several foreigners in the past six months, beheading some hostages after failing to force their home governments to meet political demands.

Bailey said Canada must be cautious because it doesn't have soldiers on the ground in Iraq to protect its officials.

Canada has not had an official presence in the country since the 1991 Gulf War, but renewed diplomatic relations are seen as a key part of helping to rebuild Iraq.

Imad Khadduri, a nuclear scientist before he came to Canada from Iraq in 1999, said he hopes the diplomatic presence leads his new country to play a direct role in the aid projects it funds in Iraq.

"It is greatly important if Canada is going to embark upon truly genuine Canadian projects, and not simply tag along with the United Nations or the United States," said Khadduri, who was attending a conference in Ottawa on Canada's role in Iraq as the country rebuilds its democratic institutions.

Canada has committed $300 million in development assistance to Iraq. The majority of the funding has already been distributed through UN agencies.

France reopened its embassy in Baghdad Monday, raising its flag there for the first time in 13 years.