Iraq Saudi border crossing to re-open in October

Arar crossing will boost trade ties between Baghdad and Riyadh

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with Iraq's President Barham Salih during his visit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 18, 2018. The Presidency of the Republic of Iraq Office/Handout via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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An Iraqi-Saudi border crossing is expected to re-open for trade in October for the first time since 1990, when it was closed after the countries cut ties following dictator Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

The announcement, made by Iraq’s border crossing authority on Thursday, follows the visit of Saudi Arabia's Minister of Trade Majid Al Kassabi to Baghdad.

“We are working on the necessary procedures to ensure that Arar border crossing will be open no later than next October,” Kathim Al Aqabi, head of Iraq’s border crossing said in a statement.

The opening of the border has been a top priority for both Baghdad and Riyadh, the minister added.

“The Arar border will be an arena of trade exchange between the two countries and will provide job opportunities for citizens living in Anbar and Karbala provinces,” Mr Al Aqabi said.

On his part, Mr Al Kassabi said the Kingdom is ready to provide Iraq with technical, material and financial support to ensure the opening of the border.

For war-torn Iraq, the Kingdom’s investment is promising and crucial for the country’s economic growth.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Al Kassabi met with Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi in Baghdad.

“We look forward to establishing the best relations with the Kingdom and we cherish our strategic relationship,” said the Iraqi premier.

The two officials discussed preparation for the joint Saudi-Iraqi committee, where Riyadh expressed its readiness for economic and developmental cooperation to facilitate Iraq’s reconstruction efforts after a brutal battle against ISIS.

In October 2017, two months before Iraq declared victory over ISIS, the countries established the Iraqi-Saudi Joint Coordination Council, to help rebuild devastated areas retaken from the militants in Iraq.

“The Saudi delegation's visit signals Baghdad's willingness to openly deal and negotiate with its neighbours,” Iraqi Trade Minister Mohamed Al Ani said. “It will serve to empower the Saudi-Iraqi coordination council."

Both the UAE and the Kingdom have increased their efforts to strengthen relations with Iraq to halt the growing regional influence of Iran.

Baghdad is also seeking economic benefits from closer ties with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

The announcement comes as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani concluded a three-day visit to Iraq, where the two signed several preliminary trade deals in the oil, heath and transport sectors.

Saudi-Iraqi rapprochement extends back to 2015, when Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad following a 25-year break.

Former Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir visited Baghdad in February 2016.