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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Iraq's oil minister meets Saudi crown prince in Jeddah

The trip is the latest development in a rapprochement between Riyadh and Baghdad that has gathered significant momentum in recent weeks

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with the Iraqi oil minister Jabar Al Alaibi in Jeddah on Wednesday.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with the Iraqi oil minister Jabar Al Alaibi in Jeddah on Wednesday.

Iraq’s oil minister met with the Saudi crown prince and other senior officials on Wednesday in Jeddah to discuss Opec’s policies to stabilise oil prices, cooperation in the energy industry and other economic opportunities.

The trip is the latest development in a rapprochement between Riyadh and Baghdad that has gathered significant momentum in recent weeks.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Khalid Al Falih, who himself was one of the first senior Saudi official to visit Iraq after decades earlier this year, said on Twitter that he and Jabar Al Luaibi had discussed “the importance of uniting the efforts of all countries for market stability.”

The Saudi Press Agency said on Thursday that Mr Al Luaibi met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - who also controls oil policy - that the pair discussed “joint opportunities in the economic fields in general and energy in particular, including the opening of land ports, direct flights and encouraging trade exchange and investments from the Saudi private sector.”

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It added that the oil officials discussed the Opec oil production cuts and the “confirmation of the two countries’ full commitment to the agreement to reduce oil production until the markets reach the target balance of this agreement.”

Spa reported that Mr Al Luaibi conveyed “the Iraqi government’s wishes for further progress and prosperity to the kingdom while the Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques sent the Saudi leadership’s greetings to the Iraqi government.”

Mr Al Luaibi visited the kingdom on the invitation of Mr Al Falih, and was accompanied by a delegation of Iraqi oil officials, according to a statement by Baghdad’s oil ministry.

Before departing for Jeddah, the Iraqi oil minister said on Tuesday that coordinating policy on reducing output to meet Opec targets and raise oil prices was at the top of the agenda.

The Iraqi delegation was also scheduled to visit Saudi Aramco.

The kingdom is seeking ways to increase its influence in Iraqi politics, including by engaging with Shiite political figures who are themselves looking to balance Iran’s deep influence and position themselves ahead of parliamentary elections next year.

Apart from mutual political goals — that would be a necessary factor for Riyadh to invest more in Iraq — Baghdad is also looking to Saudi and other GCC countries to play a significant part in funding and supporting the physical and economic reconstruction of Sunni Arab areas of Iraq decimated by ISIL and the war to push it out of territory.

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