Date :Monday, November 19th, 2018 | Time : 15:51 |ID: 78525 | Print

Iraq’s president met Saudi king in Riyadh

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SHAFAQNAIraq‘s new President Barham Salih on Sunday met Saudi Arabia‘s King Salman in Riyadh on his first official visit to the kingdom.

Barham Salih’s back-to-back visits to Iran and Saudi Arabia reflect the delicate balance Iraq seeks to maintain in a region where its two powerful neighbours are battling for supremacy, DAWN reported.

The king hosted a lunch and “discussed regional developments” with Salih, the official Saudi Press Agency said, after the Iraqi leader’s arrival in Riyadh following a visit to Iran.

An Iraqi official said Salih, a 58-year-old moderate Kurd elected to the largely ceremonial role last month, was on an overnight visit at the invitation of the Saudi monarch, The New Arab told.

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, met his Iraqi counterpart, Mohammad Ali Al-Hakim, in Riyadh.
During the meeting, they reviewed the close relations between the Kingdom and Iraq and means of enhancing them in all fields, in addition to discussing regional and international developments and discussing a number of issues of mutual interest, Arab News reported.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency released few details about Salih’s talks with the monarch.

Ties between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shiite-majority Iraq have been looking up in recent months, after years of tense relations.

After former dictator Saddam Hussein’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Riyadh severed relations with Baghdad and closed its border posts with its northern neighbour.

But a flurry of visits in recent months between the two countries has indicated a thawing of ties.

In October 2017, Saudi budget airline flynas made the first commercial flight from Riyadh to Baghdad in 27 years.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister was in Baghdad to discuss stabilising oil prices in the wake of the latest US sanctions against Iran.

Iraq is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with the wealthy kingdom as it seeks to rebuild after the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) group.

On Saturday, Salih was in Tehran where he pledged to improve trade ties less than two weeks after the US restored oil sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear accord.

Iran is a key supplier of electricity, gas and goods to Iraqi markets. The two countries on Saturday vowed to expand trade to $20 billion a year, from $8.5 billion in 2018, despite the punishing US sanctions against Iran.

Iraq is Iran’s second-largest market after China, buying everything from food and machinery to electricity and natural gas. 

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