Iraq, Saudi Arabia aim to upgrade diplomatic relations - statement


Reuters

DUBAI, June 20 (Reuters) - Iraq and Saudi Arabia are setting
up a coordination council to upgrade strategic ties, a joint
statement said on Tuesday, as part of an attempt to heal
troubled relations between the Arab neighbours.
    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with Saudi King
Salman a day earlier on the first leg of a Middle East tour that
will also include Iran and Kuwait.
    Iraq lies on the fault line between Shi'ite Iran and the
mostly-Sunni Arab world. Deep-running animosity and distrust
between the two sides is fuelled by sectarian divides.
    "The countries agreed to establish a coordination council to
upgrade relations to the hoped for strategic level and open new
horizons for cooperation in different fields," said the
statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
    It said the two countries had achieved a "quantum leap" in
bilateral relations and stressed the importance of further
official visits.
    Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad in 2015
following a 25-year break, and in February Saudi Foreign
Minister Adel al-Jubeir made a rare visit to Baghdad.
    That has been seen as heralding closer cooperation against
Islamic State, which controls territory in Iraq and in Syria and
has claimed bombings in Saudi Arabia.
    Abadi arrived in Tehran on Tuesday, according to a post on
his official Twitter account. Iran, by leveraging its ties with
Iraq's Shi'ites, has emerged as the main power broker in Iraq
after the United States withdrew its troops in 2011.
    The trip was initially postponed to avoid appearing to take
sides in a diplomatic dispute between Qatar and other Arab
states including Saudi Arabia.
    King Salman and Abadi last met in March on the sidelines of
an Arab summit. Their countries are the first and second largest
OPEC producers and cooperated in November to bring about an
agreement to support crude prices.


 (Reporting by Stephen Kalin, editing by Ed Osmond)
 ((stephen.kalin@tr.com; +971 52 322 9759; Reuters Messaging:
stephen.kalin.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: SAUDI IRAQ/ (PIX)



This article appears in: World Markets , Stocks , Politics


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