Iraqi PM to visit Saudi, Iran in diplomatic balancing act

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Baghdad

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi will travel to Saudi Arabia and Iran back-to-back next week, carefully balancing ties to the regional rivals in his first foreign trip as premier, said officials on Saturday.
On Sunday, Al-Kadhimi will host Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Baghdad, before traveling with Iraq’s ministers of oil, electricity, planning and finance to Saudi Arabia the following day, Iraqi officials said.
They are set to stay in NEOM, an area in the kingdom’s northwest that is currently under development, and are scheduled to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with whom Al-Kadhimi is known to have warm personal ties. Baghdad proposed a package of energy-focused development opportunities in Iraq to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, and the talks will likely focus on financing for those proposals, other infrastructure projects, and a reopening of the Arar border crossing between the two countries, the officials said.—AFP