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Iraq summit brings together rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia

Delegates from six countries attended the summit on Saturday [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 21 April, 2019

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Regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran took part in a summit as part of Iraq's efforts to cast itself as a mediator between neighbouring states.

Regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran took part in a summit organised by Iraq on Saturday aimed at casting Baghdad as a mediator between neighbouring states.

Iraqi parliament speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi hosted the summit, which brought together lawmakers from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, and Kuwait.

"Today, Iraq is building a promising strategic partnership with all neighbouring countries without any reservations or favouring any party," said al-Halbousi.

The summit follows the return of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abul Mahdi from visits to neighbouring Iran and Saudi Arabia - states that have long vied for dominance in a region wracked by conflict. Both countries have positioned themselves on opposing sides in many of the region's major conflicts, including in Syria and Yemen.

"What binds us to our neighbors is our common geographical destiny and common interests," Abul Mahdi said in a statement.

While maintaining strong ties with Iran, Iraq has come under pressure from Washington and Saudi Arabia to distance itself from the Islamic Republic. Riyadh and Washington accuse Tehran of destabilising the region - a charge which Iran has fired back at the allies.

Baghdad and Riyadh, meanwhile, have long been at odds  since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 that triggered the first Gulf War. In recent years the two neighbours have undertaken efforts to improve ties.

Delegations from the six neighbouring countries at the Saturday conference pledged support for reconstruction and development efforts in Iraq, according to a statement. The visiting legislators also voiced support for Iraq's stability following the military defeat of the Islamic State group in Iraq, a statement said.

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