Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s visit to Saudi Arabia has been rescheduled for the middle of the next week, sources said Thursday after press leaks said the prime minister was heading to the kingdom Wednesday.
Iraq Today quoted a source close to Abadi saying that the visit was postponed to next week, but the day was to be set based on an agreement between Baghdad and Riyadh.
DPA quoted a Saudi diplomatic source saying the postponement came as per a request from the Iraqi side, adding that the meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz would be held in the holy city of Mekka, rather than the port city of Jeddah.
Press reports had speculated that Abadi was visiting Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to discuss the diplomatic crisis which had seen Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates totally severing relations with Qatar over the latter’s alleged financing of terrorism and interference with their domestic affairs.
Abadi denied the suggestion during a weekly press briefing on Tuesday, saying that the visit was based on an invitation made more than a year earlier, and was designed to tap into a recent diplomatic rapprochement between the Shia-led government in Baghdad and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia.
Jassem Jaafar, an Iraqi parliamentarian, told DPA that proceeding with the visit in the current period was “not in Iraq’s interest” because it would show Baghdad as taking sides in the Gulf crisis.
Jaafar accused Saudi Arabia of “intentionally reporting of Abadi’s visit to Riyadh to embarrass Iraq into spelling out its stance on the Gulf crisis”.