Dead Sea – Iraqi Foreign Affairs Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari lauded Saudi-Iraqi relations, stressing that the two countries were heading towards forging “strong and consolidated ties”.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Jaafari said that a positive atmosphere has prevailed over the preparatory meetings of the Arab Summit, which will kick off Wednesday in the Dead Sea.
“Everybody was keen on narrowing differences and taking into consideration countries currently facing difficult conditions,” he stated.
Asked about an expected meeting between Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the foreign minister said that the meeting was originally scheduled to be held in Riyadh, but could take place on the sidelines of the Summit.
He added that the date of the meeting was yet to be determined.
On Saudi-Iraqi relations, Jaafari said ties were witnessing progress.
He noted in this regard that during the recent visit of Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir to Baghdad, an agreement was reached to bolster bilateral ties and maintain a strong and sustainable cooperation.
Jaafari stressed that Summit participants were all keen on consolidating Arab solidarity by respecting each country’s views and avoiding issues of sharp disputes.
“This is a summit of consensus and a meeting of brothers,” the minister said, when asked to describe this year’s meeting of Arab leaders.
On US-Iraqi cooperation, Jaafari said that the Iraqi premier has received pledges of continuous support to Baghdad during his meetings with the US administration in Washington.
Asked whether the US would deploy troops in Iraq, as part of efforts to fight terrorism, the minister said that while his country welcomed the presence of military advisors, it had reservations over the deployment of soldiers across its territories.
He noted that Iraq welcomed assistance within the international alliance to fight terrorism.
“The presence of foreign armed forces on Iraqi land is another issue, and it is rejected,” he stated.
Jaafari stressed that military operations in the city of Mosul would continue until the full eradication of ISIS and all forms of terrorism.
Commenting on his meeting with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, Jaafari said that the international envoy was keen on reaching a political solution to the ongoing crisis, noting in this regard that military measures have only led to death and destruction over the past six years of war.