Saudi Arabia appoints ambassador to Iraq after 20 years | News | DW | 21.02.2012
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Saudi Arabia appoints ambassador to Iraq after 20 years

In an attempt to re-establish ties with Iraq, Saudi Arabia has named an ambassador to the country for the first time in 21 years. Early statements from the foreign ministry suggest the dipomat will be non-resident.

Saudi Arabiahas nominated an ambassador to Iraq in a bid to re-establish full diplomatic ties with the country for the first time since former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait.

"For the first time since 1990, the Saudis have named an ambassador to Iraq. This is a very positive development," the Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, said Tuesday.

Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman Osama Nugali said the country's ambassador to Jordan would take up a non-resident role as ambassador to Iraq on top of his existing duties. Authorities in Baghdad welcomed the small first step.

"Iraq's response accepting this will be quick," Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's spokesman Ali Mussawi told the AFP news agency. "The Iraqi government welcomes this step, and we consider it a first step, and we are waiting for more steps," such as "the appointment of a resident ambassador in the country," he said.

The announcement comes as Iraq prepares to host an Arab League summit at the end of March which has been delayed twice due to regional turmoil and hostilities between Iraq and some Sunni Arab Gulf states concerning the violence in Syria and pressure on Iran from Western countries.

Iraqhas strong ties with Syria, which has been suspended by the Arab League over President Bashar al-Assad's violent suppression of an 11-month uprising.

jw, msh/mz (Reuters, AP)