Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister in Baghdad to sign deals with Iraq

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Visit is Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s first to the capital since assuming his post

Aug 27, 2020

August 27, 2020

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Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan visited Iraq on Thursday and is expected to announce new agreements between the two nations.

This visit comes at a time when Baghdad and Riyadh are seeking to strengthen their ties, especially in the field of energy as Iraq is experiencing a shortage of electricity.

It is Prince Faisal’s first visit to Iraq since assuming the post last year. He is set to meet his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein and Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi.

The last time a Saudi foreign minister visited Baghdad was in 2017, when Adel Al Jubeir held talks with his Iraqi counterpart in the capital.

Mr Al Kadhimi was due to visit Saudi Arabia last month but the trip was cancelled after King Salman was admitted to hospital in Riyadh.

The kingdom is seeking to ride a wave of Iraqi national pride, reinvest economically and build relationships across ethnic and confessional lines in the country, reported the Crisis Group think tank.

The kingdom cut relations with Baghdad after it invaded Kuwait in 1990. But reconciliation between the two countries began in 2003 after the US invasion. Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad on April 4, 2015, after 25 years.

Riyadh sent an ambassador, Thamer Al Sabhan, to Baghdad shortly after.

But Mr Al Sabhan was forced to leave his post by Iraq less than a year later after he said Iran-backed Shiite militias in the country were exacerbating tension with Sunni Arabs.

But the reopening of the Saudi embassy in Baghdad was seen as heralding closer co-operation against ISIS, which controlled territory in Iraq and Syria at the time.

Consular services were not resumed until then and Iraqis applying for visas had to go through the Saudi embassy in Jordan.

Updated: August 27, 2020 03:13 PM

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