Abu Dhabi crown prince makes surprise Baghdad visit


Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who welcomed the crown prince at Baghdad international airport, said he was appreciative of the support from the United Arab Emirates, of which Abu Dhabi is the capital.

"This visit is an important step in developing and enhancing relations with the brother state, the UAE, especially in political, economic and commercial fields," Maliki was quoted as saying in a government statement.

It said the crown prince, who is also the number two in the UAE armed forces, would be finalising a location for a UAE diplomatic mission in Baghdad.

On September 4, Abdullah Ibrahim al-Shehhi presented his credentials as UAE envoy, becoming the first Arab ambassador to be stationed in Iraq in two years. He had been named in July.

"Our visit is to confirm our total support for the national unity government and to develop political and economic relations," the crown prince said, according to the Iraqi government statement.

In July, the UAE announced a seven-billion-dollar debt forgiveness for Iraq.

The crown prince’s visit came hot on the heels of a visit by Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit on Sunday.

Washington has been pushing its Sunni Arab allies to send ambassadors to Baghdad as a counterweight to Shiite Iran.

The UAE withdrew its most senior diplomat — a charge d’affaires — from Baghdad in May 2006 after another diplomat was kidnapped by Islamist militants and held for two weeks.

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