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Saudi Arabia moves closer to reopening Baghdad embassy - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (R) meeting with Iraqi President Fuad Masoum (L) in Riyadh on November 11, 2014 (SPA)

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah (R) meeting with Iraqi President Fuad Masoum (L) in Riyadh on November 11, 2014 (SPA)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia is set to send a delegation to Baghdad within a few weeks to choose a location for its embassy in coordination with the Iraqi government, a foreign ministry source told Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday.

“A technical, non-political, delegation will visit Iraq to check the available locations in Baghdad’s Green Zone area, according to an agreement with the Iraqi side,” Saudi foreign ministry spokesman Ambassador Osama Naqli told Asharq Al-Awsat in a phone interview from Riyadh.

The official did not set a specific opening date, but said the embassy would operate as soon as possible once a location has been chosen and all preparations made.

“Opening date depends on choosing the location of and preparing the embassy,” he said.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iraq in 1990 after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The last Saudi resident ambassador to Iraq was Tarrad Abdullah Al-Hussein Al-Harthi, who served between 1983 and 1990.

Relations remained cool after the US-led invasion in 2003. In late 2007 an Iraqi foreign ministry official said a Saudi team would be visiting Baghdad to choose a location for the Kingdom’s embassy, but the step seems to have been blocked by the worsening ties between the two countries.

However, in 2012, Riyadh appointed Fahd Bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Zaid as a non-resident ambassador to Baghdad, whose diplomatic credentials were received by then Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Relations between the two neighbors have begun to warm noticeably in recent months, following the departure from office of former Iraqi premier Nuri Al-Maliki and the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) across northern and western Iraq.

In November, Iraqi President Fuad Masoum made an official visit to Saudi Arabia, to be followed by the Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Salim Al-Jabouri.