Iraq: Saudi FM arrives in Baghdad for surprise visit

26th Feb 2017
Iraq: Saudi FM arrives in Baghdad for surprise visit

By Ali Jawad

 

BAGHDAD (AA): Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir arrived in Baghdad, Iraq Saturday on an unscheduled visit, according to an Iraqi official.

Al-Jubeir is leading an official delegation for talks with Iraqi officials, the Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

The visit is the first by a Saudi foreign minister to the Iraqi capital since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Tension has marred Saudi-Iraqi relations in recent months since Saudi ambassador Thamer al-Sabhan accused Iran-affiliated Shia militias of plotting to assassinate him. In response, Baghdad demanded Riyadh to change the diplomat.

Al-Jubeir himself accused the Hashd al-Shaabi militia — a main partner of the Iraqi army in its fights against Daesh terrorist group — of being a proxy force for regional rival Iran, prompting Baghdad to accuse him of meddling in Iraqi affairs.

Al-Jubeir’s visit comes amid a major Iraqi offensive to recapture Daesh-held Mosul city, which the terrorist group overran in 2014.

  • Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Iraqi officials that the kingdom plans to appoint a new ambassador in Baghdad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said.

    Al-Jaafari was speaking during a joint press conference with the top Saudi diplomat, who started an official visit to Baghdad on Saturday.

    Last year, Iraq asked Saudi Arabia to replace its envoy Thamer al-Sabhan after he accused Iran-allied militias of planning to assassinate him.

    Al-Jubeir, for his part, said both Riyadh and Baghdad have a mutual interest in fighting Daesh terrorist group, which seized vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq in 2014.

    “Saudi Arabia and Iraq face the threat of terrorism and there is a joint desire to eradicate it,” he said.

    He said his country was looking forward to building distinguished relations with Iraq.

    Al-Jubeir’s visit is the first by a Saudi foreign minister to the Iraqi capital since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    His visit comes amid a major Iraqi offensive to recapture Daesh-held Mosul city, which the terrorist group overran in 2014.

    The top Saudi diplomat had earlier accused the Hashd al-Shaabi militia — a main partner of the Iraqi army in the anti-Daesh offensive — of being a proxy force for regional rival Iran, prompting Baghdad to accuse him of meddling in Iraqi affairs.

    By Amer al-Hasani

 

[Photo: Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Adel al-Jubeir. Photo by Flickr/CC]

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