Saudi Arabia pledges $1 bln for Iraq as high-level delegation starts visit

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Saudi Arabia will provide Iraq $1 billion to build a sports city, state television said on Wednesday at the start of a two-day visit to Iraq by high-level Saudi officials aimed at boosting ties.

A Saudi economic delegation that includes the energy and investment ministers arrived in Iraq on Wednesday for the second Saudi-Iraq coordination council meeting, an initiative launched in 2017 to upgrade diplomatic relations.

Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad in 2015 following a 25-year break.

Saudi investment minister Majid bin Abdullah al-Qasabi said it would open its consulate in Baghdad on Thursday to begin issuing visas for Iraqis and that three other consulates would be opened in Iraq, according to Iraq’s state news agency.

Qasabi said that 13 agreements were ready to be signed and that work on the Arar land border crossing linking Iraq and Saudi Arabia would be completed within six months.

At Baghdad International Airport, the seven-minister Saudi delegation was received by a number of Iraqi ministers and senior officials, a Saudi Press Agency report said.

The Saudi delegation included Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan, Minister of Culture; Eng. Abdurrahman al-Fadhli, Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture; Eng. Khalid al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources; Dr. Hamad al-Sheikh, Minister of Education; Turki al-Shabanah, Minister of Media, and Thamer al-Subhan, Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs.

The delegation also included representatives of other ministries and major companies in addition to a number of businesspersons and economic and cultural figures.

During the two-day visit, the 2nd Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council will be held under co-chairmanship of Dr. Majid bin Abdullah al-Qasabi, Minister of Commerce and Investment, and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs and Minister of Oil Thamer al-Ghadhban.

The agenda of the second meeting aims to focus on aspects of bilateral cooperation and consolidate strategic partnership in all fields. The two sides will sign a number of memoranda of understanding on bilateral cooperation in various fields.

On the sidelines of the visit, the Saudi delegation will hold meetings with Iraqi President Barham Salih; Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, and Speaker of Iraqi Council of Representatives Mohammed al-Halboosi. The first Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council was held in Riyadh 2017.

(With SPA inputs)

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