Iraqi Vice-President Says Free Trade Agreement with Egypt is Good for Arab Countries
Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Tuesday in Cairo that a free trade agreement he is expected to sign with Egypt this week would be good for relations between Arab countries, according to Reuters.
"We believe that it is a good sign for cooperation not only in Iraqi-Egyptian relations but for all Arab-Arab relations," Ramadan told reporters after arriving at Cairo airport.
Ramadan, the highest-level official to make a bilateral visit to Egypt since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, is due to sign the free-trade agreement with Egypt on Wednesday. Egypt broke off diplomatic ties with Iraq during the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis.
On November 7, the two countries announced the effective resumption of relations.
Iraq's second-in-command, Ezzat Ibrahim, traveled to Cairo last October but it was to represent his country at the emergency Arab summit. He met with Mubarak on the summit sidelines, said AFP.
In November, Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz became the first Iraqi official since the Gulf crisis to fly abroad, to Syria, followed by Ramadan who visited India.
The initiatives came after dozens of planes landed in Baghdad in a show of solidarity with Iraq.
Diplomatic relations between Cairo and Baghdad became stronger in December after Egypt sent several humanitarian flights to Baghdad.
Deals concluded between Iraq and Egypt under the UN oil-for-food program have so far reached about $170 million, said the Middle East times in an article published last week. Cairo expects to win more business from Iraq, said the report.
Officials, quoted by the weekly newspaper, said that Egypt, which has called for an end to the sanctions imposed on Baghdad, was keen to show Washington and Arab states that it is motivated by economic and humanitarian reasons rather than by its support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein -- Albawaba.com
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