Saudi Arabia has reopened its embassy in Iraq, a quarter of a century after Riyadh broke off diplomatic relations with Baghdad following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
“The staff of the Saudi embassy arrived today in Baghdad. They were met at the airport by Foreign Ministry officials. The staff consists of 35 people, led by the ambassador's deputy,” an unnamed Iraqi Foreign Ministry official told AFP on Tuesday.
The official further said that the Saudi ambassador to Baghdad was due to arrive by Thursday and would attend an official opening ceremony.
Reports say that a Saudi consulate is expected to open later in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government.
On April 15, Saudi Arabia appointed Thamer al-Sabhan, the former military attaché at the Saudi embassy in Lebanon, as its non-resident ambassador to Baghdad. He took the oath of his new post on June 2.
Meanwhile, the official Saudi Press Agency quoted Sabhan as saying in a statement that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s “directives to reopen the embassy in Baghdad embody his keenness to strengthen relations between the two countries and their peoples.”
Diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Baghdad was restored in 2004 in the absence of a Saudi embassy in Baghdad after the US-led invasion of Iraq toppled the country’s former dictator, Saddam Hussein, in 2003.
In 1990, the Iraqi Ba’athist regime, led by the slain Iraqi dictator, invaded Kuwait, an oil-rich Persian Gulf state, which resulted in a seven-month-long occupation. Saudi Arabia then severed its diplomatic relations with Iraq for the next 14 years.
The reopening of the Saudi embassy comes as Iraqi officials have frequently accused Riyadh of abetting Daesh, which has seized swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.
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