Middle East

Iraqi PM makes first official visit to Saudi Arabia

5 memoranda of understanding signed between two countries as part of visit aimed at strengthening bilateral relations

Ali Jawad and Haydar Karaalp   | 31.03.2021
Iraqi PM makes first official visit to Saudi Arabia

BAGHDAD, Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday on his first visit to Saudi Arabia since formally taking office last May.

The Iraqi premier was accompanied by a large delegation, according to state-run Al-Iraqiya TV.

Al-Kadhimi met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of his visit, according to a statement by the Iraqi Prime Ministry Press Office.

During the meeting, five memoranda of understanding were signed between the two countries in various fields, the statement said.

The double taxation system between the two countries was banned in accordance with the pacts, it said.

A joint memorandum of understanding on development planning, economic diversity and development of the private sector was also signed between the two sides.

The two countries also signed a preliminary agreement in the fields of books and documents and press and information.

Earlier Wednesday, al-Kadhimi tweeted that he was travelling to Saudi Arabia to “consolidate the distinguished relations between the two brotherly countries” and to foster regional cooperation.

The premier’s visit comes at the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, who last Thursday invited al-Kadhimi to visit Saudi Arabia and meet with the Crown Prince to discuss ways to strengthen relations between the two countries.

Hussein Allawi, an adviser to the prime minister, told the official Al-Sabah newspaper that al-Kadhimi’s delegation includes ministers and members of the Iraqi-Saudi Coordination Committee.

"This is an important visit that comes at a very special time,” Allawi said.

“The visit will discuss a number of fields of interest, including ways to confront crises in the region, economic coordination, and support for development and investment plans presented by the Iraqi National Investment Commission to Saudi companies, and the provision of facilities by the Iraqi government to Saudi companies and embarking towards establishing joint projects."

Last July, Iraq and Saudi Arabia formed a coordination council between the two countries aimed at upgrading bilateral relations in the political, security and economic fields.

Al-Kadhimi was initially scheduled to visit the kingdom on July 20 last year, but the visit was postponed due to a health setback the king experienced.

Saudi Arabia resumed diplomatic relations with Iraq in December 2015 after a break of 25 years following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Iraq has become a field of competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which enjoys close relations with several Iraqi Shia groups.

*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar and Zehra Nur Duz in Ankara

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