Iraqi PM visits Saudi Arabia and Iran to discuss regional stability

By: AFP
Published: 11:33 PM, 26 Jun, 2022
Iraqi PM visits Saudi Arabia and Iran to discuss regional stability
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Iraq's prime minister met with leaders in rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran on Sunday, discussing regional stability as part of Baghdad's efforts to mediate between the two Middle East heavyweights.

Mustafa al-Kadhemi visited Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, after earlier meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi city of Jeddah -- pushing forward a bid to reconcile the foes that have had no diplomatic ties since 2016.

Raisi appeared to welcome the mediation bid, saying: "We stressed the need for regional leaders to negotiate with one another to resolve the region's problems."

Iran and Iraq "believe that peace and tranquillity in the region depend on the role of all regional leaders," he added in a news conference with Kadhemi.

Raisi welcomed an April ceasefire in Yemen -- where Tehran and Riyadh back opposing sides in the seven-year civil war.

But he criticised all forms of rapprochement with Israel, amid hints that an upcoming visit by US President Joe Biden to Riyadh could herald improved relations between the kingdom and the Jewish state.

"The normalisation of relations with the Zionist regime or the presence of strangers in the region will not resolve any problems in the region, but rather aggravate them," Raisi said.

Israel established diplomatic ties with the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco in 2020 as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords. 

Kadhemi said that he and Raisi had "agreed on the need to... preserve regional calm and fight food insecurity".

Iran and Saudi Arabia support rival sides in several conflict zones around the region. 

Iraq has over the past year hosted five rounds of talks between Riyadh and Tehran, with the last session held in April.

Kadhemi said at the time he believed that "reconciliation is near" between the rivals, a further reflection of shifting political alignments across the region.

During Kadhemi's meeting Sunday with Prince Mohammed, the two addressed "bilateral relations and opportunities for joint cooperation", the official Saudi Press Agency reported. 

"They exchanged points of view on a number of issues that would contribute to supporting and strengthening regional security and stability," it added. 

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.