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Baghdad Rules Out ‘Demographic Change’ in Liberated Areas - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Riyadh– Iraqi Ambassador to Riyadh Mahmoud al-Aani denied any demographic change in areas liberated from ISIS, especially in the governorate of Nineveh and its major city Mosul.

Commenting on calls by the United Nations to the Iraqi government to stop the imminent displacement from Mosul of those who are suspected of having links with ISIS, the Iraqi ambassador said his government would take into account the UN demands, stressing that the authorities have never carried out any forced displacement.

Speaking during a press conference at the Iraqi embassy in Riyadh, the diplomat noted that his country was not intending to introduce demographic changes in freed cities, adding that recent measures taken by the authorities were aimed at maintaining security and dismantling dormant terrorist cells.

In this regard, the Iraqi official stated that the government and security forces were carrying out “precautionary” security measures in order to ensure that the displaced persons were not associated with members of the terrorist group.

On a different note, al-Aani said that the meeting, which took place in Jeddah on Sunday between Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz and his Iraqi counterpart, Qassem al-Araji, discussed some security issues, including the means to strengthen cooperation in fighting terrorism.

The ambassador added that talks have also touched on the situation of the Iraqi community in Saudi Arabia, the reopening of the borders between the two countries, and the resumption of direct flights between Riyadh and Baghdad.

He also stressed the strong bilateral relations between Riyadh and Baghdad, especially after the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to Saudi Arabia, where he met with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Al-Aani revealed that data issued by the Iraqi authorities estimated the reconstruction costs of Mosul at around $50 billion, noting that the government alone was not able to carry out such task.

He noted in this regard that the Saudi government has expressed its willingness to assist Iraq in the reconstruction process.