Saudis, Iraqi Kurdistan agree on cooperation

In recent months, Riyadh-Baghdad ties have improved after decades of strain over Kuwait invasion

Cairo: Saudi Arabia and Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan have agreed to set up a joint council to boost their cooperation amid warm ties between Riyadh and Baghdad.

The agreement was reached at talks between both sides in the Kurdish capital Arbil, pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat reported on Wednesday.

In recent months, Saudi-Iraqi relations have experienced a thaw after decades of strain over Saddam Hussain’s 1990 invasion of neighbouring Kuwait.

A Saudi 35-member delegation on Tuesday wrapped up a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan where they had met government officials, including Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, and local business leaders.

Head of the Council of Saudi Chambers, Sami Abdullah Al Obaidi said that the delegation’s talks in Erbil focused on expanding economic and investment links between the two sides.

“The investment law in force in Kurdistan provides good opportunities for Saudi businessmen to invest in the territory,” he said.

Mohammad Al Khorayef, a member of the Saudi team, said at a joint meeting with Kurdish counterparts that the kingdom is interested in Kurdish products. “We confirm the kingdom’s markets are open to your products. Our delegation that comprises a select group of businessmen and experts, looks forward to getting good investment chances in the territory.”

Al Khorayef expected the Arar border crossing between Saudi Arabia and Iraq to reopen in 10 months’ time, allowing trade movement. “Efforts are underway to open more border outlets between both countries and consolidate bank transactions.”

Over the past months, Saudi and Iraqi officials have exchanged visits.

In February last year, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubair visited Baghdad, the first such a visit by a senior Saudi official to Iraq in more than a decade.

Six months later, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi made a landmark visit to Saudi Arabia where he met King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and set up a coordination council between the two countries.

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