Tillerson attends landmark Saudi-Iraqi meeting in Riyadh

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Saudi King Salman holds talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi in Riyadh. (SPA)
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Saudi King Salman holds talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi in Riyadh. (SPA)
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Saudi King Salman holds talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 22 October 2017
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Tillerson attends landmark Saudi-Iraqi meeting in Riyadh

RIYADH: US diplomat Rex Tillerson attended a landmark meeting Sunday between Saudi Arabia and Iraq aimed at upgrading strategic ties between the two countries and countering Iranian regional influence.
Saudi King Salman and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi held the first meeting of the joint Saudi-Iraqi coordination council that aims to boost cooperation after years of tensions.
Al-Abadi hailed the meeting as an “important step toward enhancing relations,” echoing similar comments from King Salman.
“We are facing in our region serious challenges in the form of extremism, terrorism as well as attempts to destabilize our countries,” the Saudi monarch said.
“These attempts require our full attention.”
Iraq is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with Riyadh as both countries suffer from a protracted oil slump.
Saudi Arabia is also seeking to counter Iranian influence in Iraq.
“This event highlights the strength and breadth as well as the great potential of the relations between your countries,” Tillerson said, referring to the meeting.
After years of tense relations, ties between Riyadh and Baghdad have begun looking up in recent months.

 

After Saddam Hussein’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Riyadh severed relations with Baghdad and closed its border posts with its northern neighbor.
Ties remained strained even after Saddam’s ouster in the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, since when successive governments in Baghdad have stayed close to Tehran.
But a flurry of visits between the two countries this year appears to indicate a thawing of ties.
Al-Abadi’s tour coincides with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih’s high-profile visit to Baghdad on Saturday where he called for the strengthening of economic relations to boost oil prices.
At the opening of the Baghdad International Fair, Al-Falih hailed what he called “the new Iraq, on the ambitious road to prosperity and growth while strengthening its relations with the world.”


Pompeo meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks on Aramco attacks

Updated 22 min 10 sec ago

Pompeo meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks on Aramco attacks

  • Pompeo described the drone and cruise missile strikes on Saturday as an 'Iranian attack'
  • Pompeo was met at Jeddah airport by Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf. 

JEDDAH: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday described strikes on key Saudi oil installations as an “act of war” as he landed in Jeddah to meet with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Pompeo described the drone and cruise missile strikes on Saturday as an “Iranian attack”.

He said it had not come from Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militants and that there was no evidence the attacks had been launched from Iraq.

"This is an attack of a scale we've just not seen before," he added.

Pompeo was met at Jeddah airport by Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf.

Pompeo's visit comes as President Donald Trump said on Wednesday there were many options short of war with Iran after Saudi Arabia's display of remnants of drones and missiles it said were used in the I that was "unquestionably sponsored" by Tehran.

"There are many options. There's the ultimate option and there are options that are a lot less than that. And we'll see," Trump told reporters in Los Angeles. "I'm saying the ultimate option meaning go in — war."

Trump, who earlier said on Twitter that he had ordered the US Treasury to "substantially increase" sanctions on Iran, told reporters the unspecified, punitive economic measures would be unveiled within 48 hours.

Trump's tweet followed repeated US assertions that the Islamic Republic was behind Saturday's attack on Aramco facilities and came hours after Saudi Arabia said the strike was a "test of global will."

Earlier on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had spoken with US President Donald Trump about the Aramco attack, and agreed that Iran must not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.

Also on Wednesday, Kuwait's army released a statement announcing it was raising its preparedness level for some units, given the tensions in the Middle East region.