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Iraq says Saudi Backs Unity Government - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah awards Iraq's President Jalal Talabani with the King Abdulaziz Medal at the Royal Palace in Riyadh. (R)

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah awards Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani with the King Abdulaziz Medal at the Royal Palace in Riyadh. (R)

RIYADH (AFP) – Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on a visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday said King Abdullah expressed his wish for a government comprising all Iraq’s politicians after an indecisive March 7 general election.

“The aspiration of all Arabs is that all Iraqis will participate in the running of their country,” said the king, according to a statement issued by Talabani’s office.

“The king said that Saudi Arabia stands at the same distance from all Iraqi parties and that the kingdom supports Iraq without interfering in its internal affairs,” the statement added.

Talabani was greeted at Riyadh international airport by Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, the official SPA news agency reported, while politicians in Baghdad continued negotiations over the formation of a new government.

Talabani’s arrival followed a denial by Saud on Saturday that the Saudi government was meddling in the post-election politicking in Iraq in support of former premier Iyad Allawi.

Sunni-led Saudi Arabia is a major regional rival of Shiite-dominated Iran and has been eager to see a reduction in Tehran’s influence in Baghdad.

Riyadh has had troubled relations with incumbent Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Maliki and has refused to establish a formal diplomatic representation in the Iraqi capital, citing security concerns.

Relations with Allawi, who leads an alliance including Sunni and secular Shiite parties, are believed to be better.

The former premier visited Riyadh for talks with King Abdullah on the eve of the March election in which his Iraqiya bloc went on to secure a narrow lead over Maliki’s State of Law Alliance.

Saud played down the significance of that visit saying that Riyadh welcomes visits by any Iraqi political leaders.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal welcomes Iraq's President Jalal Talabani upon his arrival at Riyadh airport. (R)

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal welcomes Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani upon his arrival at Riyadh airport. (R)

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah talks with Iraq's President Jalal Talabani at Royal Palace in Riyadh. (R)

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah talks with Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani at Royal Palace in Riyadh. (R)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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