Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi held talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh on Wednesday, during which the two leaders stressed the need for improved relations, according to a subsequent statement released by Abdul-Mahdi’s office.
Abdul-Mahdi’s visit to Riyadh -- the first of its kind since he assumed office six months ago -- “reflects the Iraqi government’s desire for enhanced relations with the [Saudi] kingdom in all fields,” the statement read.
Wednesday’s meeting was also attended by a number of prominent Saudi personalities, including members of the royal family, officials and businessmen.
The Saudi king, for his part, voiced his satisfaction with “the recent development and stability seen in Iraq”.
Before setting out for Riyadh earlier Wednesday, Abdul-Mahdi had told reporters that Iraq was preparing for a “major shift” in its formal relations with Saudi Arabia.
The oil-rich kingdom’s relations with Iraq were suspended following the latter’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
They were restored after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, but Baghdad’s continued close ties with Iran -- Riyadh’s arch-rival in the region -- served to keep relations frosty.
Iraq-Saudi relations picked up, however, during former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s period in office from 2014 to 2018.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia finally reopened its consulate in Baghdad.
By Ibrahim Saleh, Arif Yusuf and Ali Jawad in Baghdad