Saudi Arabia opens new Baghdad consulate and pledges $1bn in loans for Iraq

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Iraq Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Hakim raises the Saudi flag during the opening ceremony of the Saudi consulate in Baghdad on Thursday, April 4, 2019. (AP)
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Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi and Iraq Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Hakim arrive for the opening ceremony of a Saudi Arabia consulate in Baghdad. (AP)
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Saudi flag flying at the new Saudi consulate headquarters in the high security "Green Zone" in the centre of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (AFP)
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Iraq Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Hakim shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, after the opening ceremony of a Saudi Arabia consulate in Baghdad. (AP)
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A Saudi flag flying over the gatehouse to the new Saudi consulate headquarters in the high security "Green Zone" in the centre of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia opened its consulate in Baghdad on Thursday, with the heads of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council in attendance. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia opened its consulate in Baghdad on Thursday, with the heads of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council in attendance. (SPA)
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Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Al-Hakim raises the Saudi flag alongside Saudi Arabia's Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi during the inauguration of the new Saudi consulate compound
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Iraq's President Barham Salih and Saudi Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi meet at Salam Palace in Baghdad, Iraq April 4, 2019. (Reuters)
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Iraq's President Barham Salih meets with Saudi Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi and other Saudi delegates at Salam Palace in Baghdad, Iraq April 4, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 05 April 2019

Saudi Arabia opens new Baghdad consulate and pledges $1bn in loans for Iraq

  • Saudi Arabia will provide Iraq with $1 billion in loans for development projects
  • Three other Saudi consulates will open in Iraqi cities soon

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia opened a new consulate in Baghdad on Thursday after announcing  $1 billion in loans for development projects in Iraq.

Three more diplomatic branches are to be opened in other Iraqi cities soon, Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi said

Saudi Arabia and Iraq have moved to improve relations in recent months.  The Kingdom reopened its Baghdad embassy in 2016 after it was closed in 1991 in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

The opening of the new consulate building came as senior ministers from the Kingdom visited Baghdad as part of a meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi Arabia will provide Iraq with $1 billion in loans for development projects, Al-Qassabi said, plus $500 million to boost exports and a gift of a 100,000-seat sports stadium to be built on Baghdad’s outskirts.

“A new phase of relations between Riyadh and Baghdad has begun,” Al-Qassabi, who is leading the Saudi delegation, said. 

“We have seen from the Iraqi side sincere feelings of brotherhood.”

He said 13 agreements between the two countries were in their final stages. These will “have a significant impact on raising the level of cooperation between the two countries,” Al-Qassabi added.

Trade will also be boosted when the Arar border crossing between the two countries opens in six months.

Al-Qassabi was speaking during a press conference held with Iraq’s Oil Minister Thamir Ghadban.

The second session of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, started on Thursday in Baghdad.

The meeting discussed ways to improve cooperation and relations. The council previously met in Riyadh in October 2017.

As part of the visit, around 80 Saudi and Iraqi businessmen and investors met on Thursday on improving economic ties.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan visited some of Baghdad’s famous historic and cultural sites on Thursday.

These included Mutanabbi Street, Al-Qashla and the Abbasid Palace.

“Baghdad is distinguished by many cultural and archaeological landmarks, which are immortalized by history as cultural symbols of great importance,” Prince Badr said. “Baghdad is considered a beacon of cultural heritage in the Arab world.”

The first meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council was held in Riyadh in October 2017.


US Consulate General in Dhahran celebrates 244 years of independence, 75 years of US-Saudi partnership

Updated 20 February 2020

US Consulate General in Dhahran celebrates 244 years of independence, 75 years of US-Saudi partnership

  • Consul General Rachna Korhonen: I want to say thank you to the amazing people of Sharqiya who remind me every day how warm, wonderful, welcoming, hospitable, and kind Saudis are
  • Although US Independence Day is July 4, the consulate traditionally celebrates the occasion in the spring due to the pleasant weather this time of the year

DHAHRAN: The US Consulate General in Dhahran hosted its 2020 National Day reception on Feb. 19 to celebrate 244 years of American Independence, and the 75th anniversary of the historic meeting between US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Saudi King Abdul Aziz aboard the USS Quincy.

Consul General Rachna Korhonen and her husband Juha Korhonen welcomed the deputy governor of the Eastern Province, Khalid Al-Battal, and deputy governor of Alkhobar, Abdullah bin Ali Al-Seef, as the guests of honor.

Although US Independence Day is July 4, the consulate traditionally celebrates the occasion in the spring due to the pleasant weather this time of the year.

“Seventy-five years ago, two great leaders met aboard the USS Quincy. President Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz met to chart the future of our bilateral ties. This first encounter between a US president and a Saudi King laid the foundation for the broad strategic partnership the US and Saudi Arabia share today. Beyond partnership, President Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz forged a personal friendship that is at the heart of the strong ties our two countries share today,” said Korhonen.

She added: “As the first woman to be consul general here, it has been an exciting journey for me. I arrived to Dhahran in August 2017, to a country undergoing remarkable changes.  Vision 2030 has opened new possibilities, tourism opportunities are growing, women are driving and attending sporting events. I have said this many times and it is still true: I have the best job in the best place at the best time.

“Most of all, I want to say thank you to the amazing people of Sharqiya (Eastern Province) who remind me every day how warm, wonderful, welcoming, hospitable, and kind Saudis are. I have made friendships that I know are going to last me a lifetime. When I leave here this summer, I will certainly leave a piece of my heart here but I also plan to take a little piece of your heart with me.”