French engineering group Alstom has signed a preliminary deal to build a high-speed rail line between Baghdad and Basra in Iraq, French junior transport minister Thierry Mariani said Friday. \"Alstom and the Iraqi railway have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a high-speed rail line between Baghdad and Basra,\" Mariani told journalists at the Paris International Airshow. The two will hold exclusive talks for 12 months to try to wrap up a final agreement on the rail line that can handle speeds of up to 220 kilometres per hour (135 mph). An Alstom spokesman confirmed the agreement, and said they were seeking a deal that would include the construction of the rail line plus trains and service. Mariani said he would travel to Iraq in September or October to discuss the possible deal. No financial details were immediately available.