Publish date2 Apr 2018 - 12:51
Story Code : 322012

Following protests, Riyadh denies MbS will visit Iraq

Saudi Arabia's ministry of foreign affairs said on Saturday there is "no truth" to reports that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Iraq.
Following protests, Riyadh denies MbS will visit Iraq
The official statement follows one day after protests swept through Baghdad. 

Hundreds had gathered in the Iraqi capital on Friday afternoon, some carrying signs blaming the kingdom for crimes committed by the Islamic State group.

The Saudi foreign ministry statement added "the two brotherly countries" had witnessed "positive developments... recently in all fields".
Iraq's prime minister's office had previously stated the crown prince was planning to visit Iraq in the near future, but a date had not yet been set.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia have long had a strained relationship, but recently mended relations after diplomatic ties between the two counties were restored in 2016.

Warming relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia are partly a result of US policy, with Washington hoping Riyadh will contribute significantly to Iraq's reconstruction. 

In February, Iraqi lawmakers said $90 billion would be needed to rebuild the country after fighting a costly years-long war against the Islamic State group.

Iraq declared victory against the militants in December. At its peak, IS controlled nearly one-third of Iraqi territory and ruled over millions of people.

Washington's new approach to Iraq, which sees Saudi Arabia as playing a major role, is understood as a response to Iranian influence in the country. Iran-backed Shia militias have played an instrumental role in pushing back IS in Iraq.

However, rights groups have criticised the Shia militia groups for violations - including torture and killings - against Sunni civilians.

US officials have repeatedly called on the Shia militias to integrate into the Iraqi army or to lay down their arms. A decree earlier in March by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formalised their integration into the country's security forces.
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