World, Middle East

Saudi FM arrives in Iraq for surprise visit

The visit is the first by a Saudi foreign minister to the Iraqi capital since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003

25.02.2017
Saudi FM arrives in Iraq for surprise visit FILE PHOTO

By Ali Jawad

BAGHDAD

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir arrived in Baghdad, Iraq Saturday on an unscheduled visit, according to an Iraqi official.

Al-Jubeir is leading an official delegation for talks with Iraqi officials, the Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

The visit is the first by a Saudi foreign minister to the Iraqi capital since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Tension has marred Saudi-Iraqi relations in recent months since Saudi ambassador Thamer al-Sabhan accused Iran-affiliated Shia militias of plotting to assassinate him. In response, Baghdad demanded Riyadh to change the diplomat.

Al-Jubeir himself accused the Hashd al-Shaabi militia -- a main partner of the Iraqi army in its fights against Daesh terrorist group -- of being a proxy force for regional rival Iran, prompting Baghdad to accuse him of meddling in Iraqi affairs.

Al-Jubeir’s visit comes amid a major Iraqi offensive to recapture Daesh-held Mosul city, which the terrorist group overran in 2014.

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