Iraqi PM starts regional tour with visit to Saudi Arabia
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi landed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Saturday, marking the start of a regional tour that will also include a visit to Iran.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known by the acronym MbS) received the Iraqi leader in a diplomatic reception in Jeddah’s Peace Palace on Saturday evening.
On Sunday morning, Kadhimi and his accompanying delegation visited the Kaaba in Mecca to perform Umrah, an Islamic pilgrimage that can be performed at any time of the year.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein and a number of officials accompanied the prime minister during his visit, which came in the context of the normalization talks Iraq has hosted between Tehran and Riyadh beginning in 2021.
Five rounds of these talks, which aim to deescalate tensions and facilitate the normalization of relations between Tehran and Riyadh, have been hosted in Baghdad so far.
Kadhimi plans to visit Iran following his stop at the oil-rich kingdom.
Riyadh severed all diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016 after the Sunni kingdom executed the Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr and Iranians burned down Saudi consulates.
In March, the Saudi crown prince said Riyadh and Tehran are neighbors and cannot get rid of each other, suggesting they should “work it out”.
In mid-May, at the World Economic Forum, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said there has been “some progress” in his country’s talks with Iran, but it’s still not enough.