Saudi delegation in Iraq to sign trade and economic agreements

Riyadh and Baghdad set up a co-ordination council several years ago in effort to upgrade strategic ties

A handout picture released by the Iraqi Border Crossing Commission on November 18, 2020 shows the Arar border crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Iraq and Saudi Arabia on November 18, 2020 reopened the Arar desert crossing, a long-awaited sign of closer trade ties after 30 years of sealed land borders between the two countries. -  == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / Iraqi Borders Authority" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==
 / AFP / Iraq Border Authority / - /  == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / Iraqi Borders Authority" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==

A Saudi trade and economic delegation led by senior officials landed in Baghdad on Monday for the signing of several economic agreements this week.

Riyadh and Baghdad set up a co-ordination council several years ago to upgrade strategic ties as part of an attempt to heal troubled relations between the Arab neighbours.

“Several agreements will be signed under the Iraqi-Saudi Co-operation Council,” the spokesman for the General Secretariat of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, Haider Majeed, told the Iraqi news agency.

The Saudi delegation is led by Trade Minister Majed Al Qassabi and the head of the Saudi-Iraqi Business Council, Mohammed Al Khorayef, Mr Majeed said.

A meeting between Iraqi and Saudi businessmen will be held on the sidelines of the visit.

One of the committees will examine the proposal to build a sports city In Iraq with Saudi funding, Mr Majeed said.

Saudi Arabia said last year that it would build a $1 billion sports city in Iraq as well as open four consulates, including one in Baghdad.

The two countries recently took several steps to improve economic and diplomatic relations.

Last month the Arar crossing on Iraqi-Saudi border, viewed as an "investment gateway", was reopened after being closed for decades after former dictator Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 that prompted Saudi Arabia to break off ties with Iraq.

Baghdad sees Arar as an alternative to its crossings with neighbouring Iran, through which Iraq brings in a large proportion of its imports.

A Saudi delegation led by the industry and agriculture ministers and the kingdom’s central bank governor visited Iraq last month to prepare the ground for a meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi.

Established in 2017, the Saudi-Iraqi council consists of eight committees dedicated to fields such as energy and transformational industries, political, security and military ties, economic investment, and transport.

Iraq and the kingdom began rebuilding relations after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam.

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