Thursday, July 03, 2008

First Arab leader to visit Iraq in 5 years

For discounted oil, apparently. 

Iraqi officials say Jordan's king plans visit

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan's King Abdullah II plans to visit Iraq soon in the first trip by an Arab head of state since Saddam Hussein was deposed in 2003, Iraqi officials said Thursday.

Abdullah's visit would be a significant step in Iraq's quest for more support from its neighbors.

Sunni Arab nations have been wary of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government and its ties with regional power Iran. Arab leaders have avoided visiting and embassies have been closed or staffed with lower level officials because of security concerns.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Abdullah will hold talks next week with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other officials.

He described Abdullah's visit as "very significant," saying he will be the "first senior Arab official to (visit) Iraq" in five years.

It "represents the continuation of Arab relations with Iraq," al-Dabbagh said in Baghdad. "The Iraqi government and people welcome this visit and we believe that such a visit would stimulate other senior Arab officials to visit Iraq to enhance bilateral relations."


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