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Iraq wants strong, lasting relationship with Saudi Arabia, says president - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Fuad Masoum, Iraq's newly elected president speaks during a news conference in Baghdad, on July 24, 2014. (Reuters/Ahmed Saad)

Fuad Masoum, Iraq’s newly elected president speaks during a news conference in Baghdad, on July 24, 2014. (Reuters/Ahmed Saad)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraq wants a strong and durable relationship with Saudi Arabia, Iraqi President Fuad Masoum told Asharq Al-Awsat, in his first major press interview since becoming Iraq’s head of state on July 24.

Masoum said he appreciated the regional and international support he has received from leaders, “especially from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, [which] will form a good platform for improving [these] relations.”

He added: “We specifically want to make relations with the Kingdom stronger and lasting, and we will start working towards this in the near future. . . . We will make contacts and take initiatives.”

Following his appointment to the presidency, Masoum appointed Haider Al-Abadi as prime minister on August 11, mandating him to form a new government within 30 days. Outgoing premier Nuri Al-Maliki, who officially resigned on Thursday, initially rejected the move, calling it “unconstitutional.”

“Mr. Maliki defended his position in an attempt to renew his premiership of the council of ministers, and this is his right,” Masoum said.

He added, however, that he believed his appointment of Abadi was entirely constitutional. “I was convinced regarding the the correctness of my position. And I took my decision in light of this conviction,” he said, adding that he was “one of those who drafted the Iraqi constitution.”

In an answer to a question about any specific vision for the new government he wanted to see implemented, he said: “[I would like to see] the formation of a Higher Committee for National Policies, which includes all three sovereign posts [president, prime minister, speaker of parliament] and the leaders of the blocs, and this will be part of the agreement of the ruling coalition. I will also call for the formation of a Higher Defense Council, which again includes the [president, speaker and prime minister] and the leaders of the [political] blocs, in addition to the defense, foreign, and finance ministers, and the military commanders.”

The full text of the interview with Fuad Masoum will be published soon.