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Saudi oil minister seeks stronger ties on Iraq visit

Saudi Arabia's oil minister attended an energy conference in Basra on Tuesday [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 December, 2017

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Saudi Arabia's oil minister attended an energy conference in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Tuesday in a sign of improving bilateral relations.

Saudi Arabia's oil minister attended an energy conference in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Tuesday in a sign of improving bilateral relations.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia have had strained relations since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, with Iran gaining wider influence over the Shia-majority country after the 2003 US-led invasion.

Tensions between Riyadh and Baghdad only began to thaw in 2015, when Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy.

Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih said Saudi Arabia wants to expand investment projects in Iraq to include energy, manufacturing and natural resources.

"These are all considered important steps in bringing Iraq back to the Arab fold as well as to open Iraqi markets for international goods," al-Falih said.

"We see our cooperation and coordination as very strategic and crucial for both of our countries. It doubles our success, growth and prosperity, again and again."

Al-Falih visited Baghdad in October, making a high-profile speech in the Iraqi capital calling for greater economic cooperation.

In the same month, a commercial Saudi Arabian airliner landed at Baghdad airport for the first time in 27 years, and in August the two countries announced plans to open the land crossing along their shared border.

Iraq is looking for regional support as the country begins to rebuild after ousting the Islamic State group from major cities.

Iraq is a founding member of the OPEC cartel and its second largest producer after Saudi Arabia, but currently only exports around 4.4 million barrels of oil per day.

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