Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi visits UAE

Al Kadhimi seeks stronger ties with Gulf to boost trade and economic co-operation

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Iraq's Prime Minister, Mustafa Al Kadhimi, on Sunday said his visit to the UAE was part of his government's approach to strengthen the country's ties with the Arab region.

Mr Al Kadhimi was received in Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

"As part of my government's approach to enhance Iraq’s regional and international relations, I am today in the UAE with an official delegation," he said on Twitter.

Iraqi Prime Minister meets UAE leaders

Iraqi Prime Minister meets UAE leaders

Sheikh Mohamed hosted an official reception ceremony for Mr Al Kadhimi at Qasr Al Watan, which included a 21-gun salute, honour guard and the national anthems of the UAE and Iraq.

This was his first official trip to the UAE since he assumed office last May.

Sheikh Mohamed said it was "a pleasure to welcome our brother Mustafa Al Kadhimi ... to the UAE."

"The UAE remains committed to supporting stability and progress for Iraq and its people," he said.

The officials discussed regional and global developments, as well as ways to strengthen their "fraternal relations".

Mr Al Kadhimi's office said the two leaders discussed ways to strengthen co-operation in the energy, investment, culture, trade and transport sectors.

"They also discussed ways to advance relations between Iraq and the UAE that serves the public's interest," it said.

Later in the day, the Iraqi officials met Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, at Zabeel Palace in Dubai.

"Today I received my brother Mustafa Al Kadhimi. We discussed and talked about building stronger relations between the two countries," Sheikh Mohammed said.

"Iraq is a country that is not like other countries. It is the dawn of human civilisation. In the beginning was Iraq, then civilisation. And it will return, God willing."

The leaders discussed ways of enhancing fraternal relations between Iraq and the UAE.

The meeting was attended by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, the Dubai Media Office said.

Before the delegation's arrival to the UAE, Iraq Airways said it planned to start direct flights to Abu Dhabi from May 1.

Mr Al Kadhimi is leading a campaign to boost trade and economic co-operation with regional heavyweights to revive the Iraqi economy.

During a visit to Saudi Arabia last week, the two nations announced a $3 billion joint investment fund to boost the private sector.

Baghdad needs the support of Gulf states to revive its economy, which has been battered by years of conflict and war.

Mr Al Kadhimi is leading his country to early parliamentary elections in October, one of the demands of a youth-led protest movement that began in late 2019.

The demonstrations were sparked by high unemployment and a lack of public services, with protesters also calling for an end to corruption and foreign influence over Iraqi affairs.

Iraq is the second biggest oil producer in Opec after Saudi Arabia, but relies heavily on Iranian gas imports needed for electricity amid frequent power cuts.

Iraq and the Gulf have connected power lines as Baghdad seeks other sources of power.

The UAE-based energy firm Crescent Petroleum has invested more than $3bn in Iraq and has a 20-year gas sales deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq.

In 2008, the UAE cancelled almost $7bn of debt, including interest and arrears payments, owed by Baghdad, becoming the first Gulf Arab country to forgive all of Iraq’s debt.