Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister in Baghdad to sign deals with Iraq

Visit is Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s first to the capital since assuming his post

epa08628941 A handout photo made available by Iraqi prime minister's office shows Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi (C) meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud (C-L) at his office in Baghdad, Iraq, 27 August 2020.  EPA/IRAQI PRIME MINISTER OFFICE HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
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Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan visited Iraq on Thursday and is expected to announce new agreements between the two nations.

This visit comes at a time when Baghdad and Riyadh are seeking to strengthen their ties, especially in the field of energy as Iraq is experiencing a shortage of electricity.

"I was pleased to visit Iraq today, a country that we have deep ties with, which are taken from history and will see an ambitious future," Prince Farhan said after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi.

The Saudi royal said he discussed with Mr Al Kadhimi the relations and common challenges between the two nations.

"I conveyed to him the greetings of the Kingdom's leadership and its good wishes to the brotherly Iraqi people," he said.

It is Prince Faisal’s first visit to Iraq since assuming the post last year. He meet with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein.

The last time a Saudi foreign minister visited Baghdad was in 2017, when Adel Al Jubeir held talks with his Iraqi counterpart in the capital.

Mr Al Kadhimi was due to visit Saudi Arabia last month but the trip was cancelled after King Salman was admitted to hospital in Riyadh.

The kingdom is seeking to ride a wave of Iraqi national pride, reinvest economically and build relationships across ethnic and confessional lines in the country, reported the Crisis Group think tank.

The kingdom cut relations with Baghdad after it invaded Kuwait in 1990. But reconciliation between the two countries began in 2003 after the US invasion. Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad on April 4, 2015, after 25 years.

Riyadh sent an ambassador, Thamer Al Sabhan, to Baghdad shortly after.

But Mr Al Sabhan was forced to leave his post by Iraq less than a year later after he said Iran-backed Shiite militias in the country were exacerbating tension with Sunni Arabs.

But the reopening of the Saudi embassy in Baghdad was seen as heralding closer co-operation against ISIS, which controlled territory in Iraq and Syria at the time.

Consular services were not resumed until then and Iraqis applying for visas had to go through the Saudi embassy in Jordan.