Riyadh, Baghdad Pledge Cooperation Against IS

Riyadh, Baghdad Pledge Cooperation Against ISRiyadh, Baghdad Pledge Cooperation Against IS

Saudi Arabia and Iraq convened a new joint body to coordinate their fight against the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group and on rebuilding Iraqi territory wrested from the group, Saudi King Salman and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in Riyadh on Sunday. The rare senior meeting, signaling a thaw between states that have been at loggerheads for decades, was also attended by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who praised the accord between the two close US allies, Reuters reported.

“The joint coordination council will not only lead to closer cooperation in the fight against Daesh, but will also help support the rehabilitation of facilities and infrastructure in the areas liberated,” Tillerson told reporters, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

“The council will also contribute to reforms that will grow and diversify Iraq’s private sector. Such reforms will encourage the foreign investment that is vital to Iraq’s reconstruction efforts. This will be critical to winning the peace that has been earned through the hard-fought military gains.”

Iraqi forces ejected the militant group from Mosul and other cities in northern Iraq this year, but the fighting left whole neighborhoods in ruins and has hit Iraq’s economy. Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih visited Iraq on Saturday to call for increased economic cooperation and praise coordination to boost crude oil prices, the first Saudi official to make a public speech in Baghdad for decades.

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