Iraqi PM meets Egypt's El Sisi during official visit to Cairo

Iraq has been discussing co-operation deals with Arab neighbours, mainly in the energy sector

Mohammed Shia Al Sudani (L) meets Abdel Fattah El Sisi in Cairo on Sunday. Photo: Media Office of the Prime Minister via Reuters
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Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani held talks on Sunday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in Cairo, as the two countries worked to bolster relations.

The pair also discussed regional concerns during talks held at a presidential palace.

The foreign and trade ministers of the two nations also attended the talks, a presidential statement said.

The Egyptian President assured Mr Al Sudani of Cairo's "support for the security and stability of Iraq and his appreciation of the strategic relations binding the two nations", said Ahmed Fahmy, a spokesman for Mr El Sisi.

They also discussed co-operation with Jordan, the third member in a regional alliance they have been working to build.

The three nations have for years been hammering out co-operation deals, mainly in the energy sector, but little progress has been made.

The countries have held five summits since 2019, most recently at the Dead Sea in Jordan in December, to discuss strategic projects.

Mr Al Sudani's visit marked his first to Cairo since his government was approved by the Iraqi Parliament in October, ending a year-long political stalemate.

His predecessor Mustafa Al Kadhimi, had forged a close relationship with Mr El Sisi and Jordan's King Abdullah.

The three countries have signed numerous agreements to boost relations in different fields, including linking gas transmission networks between Iraq and Egypt through Jordan, and an industrial city on the Iraq-Jordan border, according to a report published Sunday in Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram daily.

Mr El Sisi travelled to Baghdad in June 2021 to become the first Egyptian head of state to visit Iraq since the 1990s.

Ties between the two countries were severed after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Trips abroad

Since taking office five months ago, Mr Al Sudani has visited Iraq's Middle Eastern neighbours, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran, to develop relations. He has also made trips to Germany and France.

Relations between Iraq and its Arab neighbours have been mostly uneasy since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

This ushered in a Shiite political ascendancy and led to the country falling into what many in the region consider the Iranian orbit.

The US has been pushing Iraq and other Arab countries to strengthen ties to counter Iranian influence in the region, which has been growing since the US invaded.

Unlike his predecessor, Mr Al Sudani is regarded across the region as a close ally of Iran and Iraqi Shiite groups supported by Tehran.

He was the nominee of the Iran-aligned Co-ordination Framework, the largest political group in the Iraqi parliament, with 138 out of 329 seats.

The group comprises powerful Iran-backed Shiite militias and political parties.

Updated: March 05, 2023, 3:49 PM