BAGHDAD – The Egyptian president arrived in Baghdad on Sunday on a first official visit by an Egyptian head of state in more than 30 years, for tripartite talks with Jordan and Iraq to deepen economic cooperation and safe.
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was greeted by Iraqi President Barham Salih upon his arrival on Sunday morning. It was the first time the Egyptian president had paid an official visit to Iraq since the 1990s, when ties between the two countries were severed after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.
King Abdullah II of Jordan arrived shortly after; he and el-Sisi then met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. The meetings are widely seen as an attempt to neutralize Iran’s influence in the region.
Al-Kadhimi also aims to consolidate regional alliances and strengthen Iraq’s position in the Middle East as a mediator, having recently held talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia focused on the war in Yemen.
“This visit is an important message to our people that we support each other and united to serve our people and the people of the region,” al-Kadhimi said, according to a statement from his office.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein told a press conference after the meeting that a wide range of topics had been discussed, including economic and political cooperation, large-scale industrial projects and the trade in agricultural medicines and pesticides.
The talks, which were well received by the United States, also focused on regional issues, including the Syrian crisis, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and the war in Yemen.
“Iraq must be isolated from regional interventions,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told reporters after the meeting, apparently referring to Iran’s powerful influence.
Ethiopia’s Great Renaissance Dam project, which Egypt fears will jeopardize its water supply, was also discussed, he added, and the three countries agreed that a political solution and the return of refugees were necessary to end the Syrian crisis.
“The message from the leaders is that we stand together in the face of these challenges,” he said.
Iraq has already signed key economic and trade agreements with Jordan and Egypt.
In November, Egypt signed 15 memoranda of understanding covering sectors ranging from oil to construction and trade. Jordan imported 10,000 barrels of oil a day from Iraq, but this was halted due to coronavirus restrictions. The two countries were also in talks to build an oil pipeline to export oil from Basra to the port of Aqaba.