BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – Iraq is expecting visits from Jordan’s King Abdullah — the first by an Arab leader since the U.S.-led invasion – and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Iraq’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
Hoshiyar Zebari said the impending visits were a sign Iraq was normalising. He gave no dates. “In the international community and Arab countries, confidence has grown in Iraq and its ability to be stable, to recover from the evils of sectarian war … in its prospects to move forward,” Zebari told a news conference.
Gulf Arab states have in recent months pledged to revive high-level diplomatic ties with Iraq, encouraged by a fall in violence, currently hovering at a 4-year low.
Sunni Arab governments have largely stayed away from Iraq since the invasion in 2003, citing security concerns. No Arab ambassador has been stationed permanently in Iraq since Egypt’s envoy was kidnapped and killed shortly after arriving in 2005. “Soon there will be some senior leader visits to Iraq. King Abdullah of Jordan is expected to visit us in Baghdad, the first Arab leader,” Zebari said. He said he expected Erdogan very soon. Iraq’s ties with Ankara have at times been tense over Turkish military attacks on Kurdish rebels living in northern Iraq.
“There is a diplomatic opening for Iraq. This is very encouraging,” Zebari said.