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Tillerson arrives in Riyadh ahead of Saudi-Iraqi talks

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson steps off his plane as he arrives at King Salman Air Base on October 21, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Saudi Arabia Saturday, his second visit to the region in recent months as he seeks a breakthrough in a diplomatic crisis gripping the Gulf. (AFP)
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is greeted as he arrives at King Salman Air Base on October 21, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Saudi Arabia Saturday, his second visit to the region in recent months as he seeks a breakthrough in a diplomatic crisis gripping the Gulf. (AFP)
RIYADH: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Riyadh on Saturday to attend a landmark meeting between officials from Saudi Arabia and Iraq aimed at improving relations between the two countries and countering Iran’s growing regional influence, Reuters reported.
Tillerson landed at King Salman Air Base and was received by the Saudi Foreign Ministry’s Undersecretary for Protocol Affairs Azzam Al Qain.
The visit comes a little more than a week after US President Donald Trump unveiled a strategy to contain Iran and compel Tehran to agree to close what he described as flaws in the multinational 2015 deal designed to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons.
Tillerson’s only official meeting on Saturday was a working dinner with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. He was stopping in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of a six-day trip that will also take him to Qatar, Pakistan, India and Switzerland.
His talks in Saudi Arabia and Qatar are expected to be dominated by Iran’s growing regional influence.
This week, Iranians aided Iraqi security forces in seizing the oil-rich area of the northern city of Kirkuk in an effort to abort the independence bid made by the Kurdish minority.
On Sunday, Tillerson is due to attend the inaugural session of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, a body whose creation was promoted by the Trump administration to bolster relations between Riyadh and Baghdad.
During his visit, Tillerson is also expected to renew a push to end the Gulf rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, although he has conceded he is not optimistic.
Saudi Arabia and its allies have accused Qatar of supporting hard-line Islamist groups and strengthening ties with Iran at the region’s expense. Doha denies the allegations.

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