Saudi Arabia drafts security agreement with Iraq

Officials from the Kingdom are set to meet Iraqi counterparts to implement deal

epa07617748 A handout photo made available by the Saudi Royal Court shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman talks to Iraq's President Barham Salih during the Islamic Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 30 May 2019 (issued on 01 June 2019). Muslim leaders from 57 nations gathered in Mecca to discuss the developments regarding Iran, Palestinian statehood and others. Saudi Arabia's King Salman slammed Iran over recent attacks on Saudi and Emirates oil ships describing the incidents in a speech as "terrorist acts"  and "grave danger" endanger international energy supplies.  EPA/Bandar al-Galoud / Saudi Royal Palace HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Saudi Arabia approved a draft agreement on security cooperation with Iraq on Tuesday evening, the Saudi press agency said, in a bid to strengthen ties with the neighboring country.

King Salman chaired a cabinet meeting in the city of Neom that tasked the Minister of Interior, Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud, or his deputy to meet with Iraqi officials to implement the deal.

“The council of ministers have authorised the Saudi minister of interior to discuss with the Iraqi side a draft security cooperation agreement between the Kingdom’s government and Iraq to sign the final version of the deal,” the Saudi press agency said.

Riyadh and Baghdad have been at loggerheads since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but the reconciliation of relations began in 2015, when Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad, after 25 years.

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

Iraqi President, Barham Salih, said "Security of the Gulf, the security of Saudi Arabia is vital for Iraq and likewise Iraq’s security is vital to the Gulf."

In April the two countries signed 13 agreements in areas such as security, trade, energy and political cooperation.

The border crossing of Arar is expected to officially reopen on October 15, it closed in 1990 after the invasion of Kuwait.

It comes as part of their agreement to boost trade relations.

The re-opening of the Arar border is seen as the "foundation for a fruitful cooperation" between the two, Saudi trade minister, Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi said in October 2017.

The Gulf state is attempting to woo Baghdad as part of a combined effort with Washington to halt the growing influence of Iran, while Iraq is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with Riyadh.

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.

In March 2018, Riyadh pledged $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) to Baghdad for the construction of a sports city, as well as four consulates, including one in Baghdad and three others around the country. Iraq's oil minister, Thamer Al Ghadhban, said the sports city would be located in Baghdad. Saudi Arabia also pledged to build Iraq a new football stadium after a friendly match between the two countries for the first time in almost four decades.

In the same meeting of the Council of Ministers, the cabinet agreed to beginning talks with Kuwait about combatting trafficking and drug smuggling. They also approved a memorandum of understanding on cyber-crime with China.

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