The United Arab Emirates said Thursday it would name an ambassador to Baghdad in the coming days, making it the first Arab country to restore a full diplomatic mission to Iraq since Saddam Hussein's ouster. Many countries in the region have diplomatic offices in Baghdad but only Iran and Turkey have ambassadors.
"We will hold talks to name the ambassador in the coming few days," the UAE foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said Thursday on a visit to Baghdad. "We also hope that as soon as possible — and I am talking here about a few weeks - we will see an active Emirates Embassy in Baghdad," he said at a news conference.
The UAE withdrew its ambassador to Iraq after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, and after one of its diplomats was kidnapped and later released.
Iraq'S Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki chided his Arab "brothers" at an April conference of Iraq's neighbors in Kuwait, saying he found it "difficult to explain why diplomatic exchange has not taken place."
Thursday's announcement was the strongest sign yet of tides turning toward regional acceptance of al-Maliki's Shiite regime. "We hope that our visit will be a starting point to enhance cooperation between the two countries, especially in the economic and investment levels," al-Maliki said Thursday, according to a statement from his office, cited by the AP. He also called on Emirati companies to invest in Iraq.