BAGHDAD: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II held a tripartite summit with Iraq’s president yesterday, in the first visit by an Egyptian head of state to Baghdad in three decades. Iraqi President Barham Saleh and Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi received the Egyptian and Jordanian leaders, with Saleh saying the meeting was “an eloquent message amid enormous regional challenges”.
“Iraq’s recovery paves the way to an integrated system for our region built on the fight against extremism, respect for sovereignty and economic partnership,” Saleh said on Twitter. Kadhemi’s office said the summit would address topics including political and economic cooperation, in particular strengthening investment, and “joint efforts in the fight against terrorism”.
Iraq is seeking to move closer to Arab allies of the United States in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Squeezed between Iran to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, it has been trying to establish itself as a mediator since the defeat of the Islamic State group in late 2017.
Sisi told Saleh that Egypt “looked forward to developing cooperation with Iraq into a sustainable framework of economic integration and strategic cooperation”, according to a statement from Sisi’s office. It said Saleh expressed Iraq’s “keenness to raise cooperation with Egypt to the level of strategic partnership… as a cornerstone for maintaining regional security and stability”.
Sisi is the first Egyptian president to visit Baghdad since Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s troops invaded Kuwait in 1990. Relations between Baghdad and Cairo have improved in recent years, and officials from the two countries have conducted visits. The Jordanian king visited in early 2019 for the first time in 10 years.
Media reports revealed that Iranian and Saudi officials met in Baghdad in April, their first high-level meeting since Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016. The countries have backed opposite sides of several regional conflicts, from Syria to Iraq and Yemen, where a Saudi-led military coalition is fighting the Houthi rebels. – AFP