Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Dr. Ghanim al-Jumayli, the first Iraqi ambassador to Saudi Arabia since the closure of the Iraqi embassy in 1991, said that the outstanding issues between his country and Riyadh are limited. However, he acknowledged that his task is difficult. He said his task centers on putting relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq back on their normal track.
Al-Jumayli, who is specialized in physics, explained where the difficulty lies in restoring Saudi-Iraqi relations to normalcy. He said: “When a machine that has not been operating for a long time starts to work again, it initially starts with difficulty. We will work to restore the machine of relations to its original status.”
Nevertheless, what reassures the new Iraqi ambassador in his task is a statement that the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, made when he met with him. The Saudi foreign minister said in his statement: “God willing, the task will be easy.”
Iraq reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia in the middle of February 2007 and appointed a charged ‘affaires to serve at the embassy before naming its ambassador late in April this year.
Ambassador Al-Jumayli emphasized the role of the states that neighbor Iraq in achieving comprehensive security and stability in the region.
He said: “The improvement in the security situation must be followed by other developments, including improvement in the economic and political situation and national reconciliation, in addition to improvement in the regional situation. The situation of the states of the region has an effect on the internal situation in Iraq.”
The Iraqi ambassador in Riyadh said his country’s border with Saudi Arabia is the most controlled border.
Saudi Arabia recently announced the construction of a security fence to monitor the joint Saudi-Iraqi border to prevent infiltration and smuggling operations.
Many Iraqi delegations recently visited Saudi Arabia, including a delegation led by National Security Adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubayi, to discuss the status of detainees held by both sides.
In this regard, the Iraqi ambassador noted that the exchange of wanted people is one of the important issues, which he will encourage the two sides to handle positively and smoothly. He underlined the two parties’ desire to resolve this issue.
Ambassador Ghanim al-Jumayli said that his country does not want security coordination between the two sides to be limited to high-level echelons.
He added: “We want coordination to take place at the practical level. Officials of the two countries exchange visits to discuss the border and its security, and the officials who work to secure the border receive direct support.”
He continued: “We want security cooperation to be expanded at the practical level and handled by specialists.”
The Iraqi ambassador said the security situation in his country was one of the reasons that prevented development of Iraq’s relations with Saudi Arabia. He added that the great improvement in the security situation might help step up the communication between the two countries.
Saudi officials, who met with Ambassador Al-Jumayli on his arrival in Saudi Arabia, told the ambassador that what makes Riyadh act slowly on opening an embassy in Baghdadis the security situation in Iraq, nothing else. The ambassador commented: “When they become convinced that this reason does not exist anymore, they will quickly name an ambassador. As the security situation improves, I believe that this move will be made very soon.”
The Iraqi ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the first in 18 years, said that his agenda will include fixing dates for visits to Riyadh by high-level Iraqi officials and organizing visits to Baghdad by Saudi officials. He noted that these visits will take place soon.