Iraqi foreign minister visits Iran to invite Raisi to Baghdad summit

Fuad Hussein in Tehran before conference that aims to unite leaders and defuse tension in the region

Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein is in Tehran on diplomatic business. Getty
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Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein arrived in Iran on Tuesday to personally invite new President Ebrahim Raisi to a summit in Baghdad aimed at defusing regional tension.

Mr Hussein was expected to extend the invitation on behalf of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi at a meeting with Mr Raisi in Tehran.

“Mr Hussein will discuss with President Raisi bilateral issues between Baghdad and Tehran, as well the security situation in the region,” the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said.

“He will also hand over an invitation from Mr Al Kadhimi to President Raisi to attend the summit."

The Iraqi Prime Minister's Office said on Monday that Baghdad would host a regional summit this month, with French President Emmanuel Macron agreeing to attend.

The Foreign Ministry said Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were invited, although no date had been fixed for the meeting.

Iraq this year took on a new role as mediator between Iran and Arab states to ease tension in the region. Baghdad hosted face-to-face discussions between officials from Riyadh and Tehran in early April, the first known direct talks between the countries since diplomatic ties collapsed in 2016.

The meeting indicated a possible de-escalation after years of animosity that has spilt over into neighbouring countries.

Iraq, an ally of Iran and the US, has also been the arena of a bitter rivalry between the two countries.

Iraq has been the site of regular attacks by pro-Iranian Iraqi groups against US interests, including troops sent to fight against ISIS.

Iraq declared victory over the terrorist group in late 2017 but 2,500 US soldiers remain in the country alongside other foreign troops from an anti-ISIS coalition. The extremists continue to carry out attacks.

France has several hundred troops in Iraq and Syria as part of the coalition.

While Iran considers ISIS an enemy, it is more preoccupied with the US presence in Iraq than any risk of a resurgence by the militants.

Updated: August 10, 2021, 4:28 PM