Saudi still planning Iraq mission, says official




"There are preparations and contacts between Saudi and Iraqi officials to undertake the visit soon," the foreign ministry official said, requesting anonymity. He did not give an exact date.

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal told reporters on August 7 that a Saudi mission would "head for Baghdad next week to look into security conditions there and … the modalities of opening the embassy," more than four years after the US-led invasion.

The official said the delay had nothing to do with the wrangling between Iraq’s fractious leaders that has left the Shi’ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki teetering on the brink of collapse.

"These are Iraqi internal matters in which the kingdom does not meddle… The delay in the delegation’s visit has nothing to do with these developments. When preparations (for the trip) are completed, the delegation will visit Baghdad as soon as possible," he said.

The reopening of the embassy would mark a new stage in ties between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia has been suspicious of the Maliki government, fearing it is under the influence of its Shi’ite regional rival Iran.

Iraq reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia last February. It had been closed in December 1990 on the eve of the 1991 Gulf War when ties were broken off by Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The two countries restored diplomatic relations in July 2004, a year after the US-led ouster of the Iraqi dictator. But Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Iraq remains shut because of insecurity in the country.





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