Saudis propose coordination panel with Iraq following delegation’s visit

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari

Baghdad ( Saudi Arabia has suggested forming a joint coordination council with Iraq as part of a broader agreement to improve relations that went tensional during Baghdad’s two-year war with the Islamic State.

A spokesperson of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement late Sunday that the Saudi side, during a visit by a delegation from the Iraqi ministry, suggested the establishment of a Saudi-Iraqi coordination council. Other subjects of discussions included the reopening of border crossings, relaunching direct flights, facilitating pilgrimage-related arrangements for visitors to both countries, Saudi contribution to reconstruction efforts in Iraq and cooperation in the energy and intelligence fields, according to the statement.

“Meetings by the Iraqi foreign ministry delegation with the Saudi foreign ministry in RIyadh….focused on turning a new page in bilateral relations,” the spokesperson said.

Officials also stressed on the need to “cease provocative official statements and to cooperate within regional and international bodies,” said the statement.

The visit by the Iraqi delegation to Riyahd on Sunday comes after a surprise visit by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubair to Baghdad late February, the first by a Saudi official in 14 years.

Relations between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shia-ruled Iraq have recently been tensional over Saudi Arabia’s opposition to the involvement of Iraqi Shia paramilitary forces in the fight against Islamic State. Saudi Arabia has always been irritated by the influence of Iran, it arch regional enemy, over Iraqi politics.

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