Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Iraq, Abdul Aziz al-Shammari revealed on Friday, Riyadh's vision of cooperation with Baghdad in various fields, as he clarified the kingdom's position on the Iraqi elections, he stressed Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
"The Kingdom has historical, social and close ties with Iraq, and given the social composition of Iraq, the Arab tribes in Iraq are Arab tribes from the Arabian Peninsula and have a current social reach in the Kingdom," Ambassador Al-Shammari said in an interview with the Iraqi News Agency (INA).
"The Kingdom supports an independent, stable and prosperous Iraq, and in this context the Kingdom supports everything that enables Iraq to regain its regional and international status, as you can see, official delegations from the Kingdom that are visiting Iraq continuously within the framework of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council and in order to continue consultation and coordination between the leaders and officials of the two countries and seek to activate the work and achieve the objectives of the committees emanating from the Council for the benefit of Iraq and its dear people," he said. ".
He continued that "The Kingdom's acceptance of the invitation and the participation of the Foreign Minister at the Baghdad Conference on Cooperation and Partnership continue this support, which aims to restore Iraq's regional and international standing."
"The parliamentary elections in Iraq are an internal Iraqi affair," al-Shammari said, adding that "the kingdom does not interfere in this matter in any way."
On the areas of mutual support and support within the framework of multilateral diplomacy between the two countries, al-Shammari said, "Coordination and consultation exist and continue and the exchange of support is based at the highest level between the two countries."
Iraq and the Gulf Cooperation Council
"During the 41st session of the GCC summit held in Al Ula City, the Council expressed satisfaction with the steps taken to implement the memorandum of understanding and the joint action plan for strategic dialogue, and to develop relations between the GCC system and the Republic of Iraq in all political, security, economic, cultural and other fields," al-Shammari said.
The Saudi ambassador added: "The Council also stressed its firm positions and decisions on Iraq, the importance of maintaining the integrity, territorial integrity, full sovereignty, Arab identity, social fabric and national unity, and its support to confront terrorist groups and armed groups and promote state sovereignty and law enforcement."
"The Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership achieved success reflected through the level of attendance at the summit and the great support that Iraq finds from the Kingdom and Arab countries, and was also reflected through the final statement, in which the participants expressed their support for the Government and people of Iraq, and stressed the need to unite regional and international efforts in a way that positively reflects on the stability and security of the region, and welcomed the participants to the Iraqi diplomatic efforts in order to achieve a common ground with the regional and international environments," he said adding “ strengthening political, economic and security partnerships, building constructive dialogue and consolidating understandings on the basis of common interests."
"Baghdad's embrace of this conference is a clear indication that Iraq has adopted a policy of balance and positive cooperation in its foreign relations," he said.
On security cooperation between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, al-Shammari said, "The two countries are working closely and continuously in the fight against terrorism," noting that "cooperation between military agencies is carried out through the exchange of joint exercises, training and information."
"There is high-level coordination between the border guards sectors in both the Kingdom and the Republic of Iraq, and the two parties meet periodically and exchange information," he said.
"The Kingdom attaches great importance to the issue of countering terrorism and extremist ideology, and its most important achievements: contributing $1 billion to the establishment of the United Nations Center to Combat Extremism, and internally, the relevant agencies and guiding the leadership in the Kingdom have worked to review everything that would lead to extremist discourse, whether in the media, culture or educational curricula, and indeed the Kingdom has made significant progress in fighting extremist discourse," he said.
"The Kingdom established the Global Center against Extremist Thought, a global center tasked with combating extremism, rooting it out, fighting it and promoting tolerance and coexistence among peoples, the center was established on May 21, 2017 during the Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and is the first center interested in the culture of intellectual moderation, through which extremist ideology is monitored, interacted and analyzed, in cooperation with regional and international networks," he said.
"The establishment of the Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Center for Advice, which aims to rehabilitate the accused of adopting misguided ideology and correcting misconceptions that have led to ideological deviation or intellectual extremism," he said.
On the establishment of a $3 billion Joint Iraqi-Saudi Fund and Saudi Openness to Investment in Iraq, Al-Shammari said, "The joint fund will enhance trade between the two countries and contribute to support investments in promising economic fields."
"Iraq is a neighboring and friendly country with which we have ties of religion, race, neighborhood, history and common interests, and Iraq is a country rich in wealth, mainly human and Iraqi wealth, with natural and agricultural wealth, all of which are attractive to global investments," he said.
"The Kingdom wants more investments in Iraq, and has leading companies worldwide which want to enter the Iraqi market, and by entering it will certainly transfer its global expertise to Iraqi youth and the Iraqi market and transfer knowledge in projects. " he said.
He said “We are working in the Kingdom with our brothers in Iraq and through the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council to increase the prospects for joint cooperation in all political, economic, cultural, media and other fields to wider and broader horizons in order to achieve the aspirations of the two countries and the two brotherly peoples. "
"Over the past four years, the council's work has made great strides and we are still at the beginning of the road and in the future we will witness many positive developments that benefit our brothers and sisters in dear Iraq," he said.
"The private sector in our two brotherly countries is looking forward to more joint investment and ambition, as many of them are now being processed in many areas, most notably energy, electricity, oil and gas and other projects that are expected to have a positive impact on the Iraqi economy and citizens by providing a large number of direct and indirect jobs," he said.
"The construction of grain silos in Diwaniyah governorate, the 50-bed Saqlawiya Hospital construction agreement and the rehabilitation of the general hospital have also been signed between the two countries."
"During this year 2021, a large delegation of businessmen in the Kingdom attended nearly 50 businessmen to study the opportunity to invest in Iraq, meet with their Iraqi business counterparts and discuss investment opportunities, as well as during Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi visit to the Kingdom, to meet with Saudi businessmen," He continued.
"All these achievements are considered to create the right ground for the start of investments between the two countries in accordance with the foundations and rules that allow investors to start with the legal and correct pace," al-Shammari said.
"The Council is one of the most prominent coordinating councils in the region, where the leadership of the two countries attaches great importance to its active role in strengthening bilateral relations to wider horizons in all cultural, educational, development, economic, logistical and other fields," he said.
Reconstruction of Iraq
"At the Iraq Reconstruction Conference hosted by Kuwait in 2018, Saudi Arabia announced $1 billion for reconstruction projects in Iraq and $500 million to support Saudi exports to Iraq," al-Shammari said.
"The Saudi-Iraqi Business Council was formed and held its first meetings in Baghdad, and communication between the business sectors of the two countries continues to discuss ways of cooperation," he said.
"An agreement on cooperation in the field of development planning for economic diversification and private sector development has recently been signed and is awaiting ratification by both sides," he said.
"A memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the industrial and mineral resources sectors has also recently been signed, as well as a framework memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Fund for Development and the Iraqi Ministry of Finance on the project to establish grain silos and the Saqlawiya Hospital project, as well as the Agreement on the Protection and Promotion of Investment, the Saudi Export Financing Agreement and a cooperation agreement between the Saudi Contractors Authority and the Iraqi Contractors Union for the Reconstruction of Iraq."
"The Kingdom is working with Iraq within the framework of OPEC and OPEC+ to support the stability of the world oil markets, thereby supporting the economy of the two countries and producing and consuming countries, and the Ministry of Energy of Saudi Arabia, together with the Ministry of Oil of the Republic of Iraq, is evaluating a range of investment opportunities in the field of oil and gas," he said.
"Natural gas field development projects are at the forefront of cooperation, as the two teams are currently studying the feasibility of developing an Iraqi gas field through an international partnership," he said.
"Saudi Arabia is keen to strengthen cooperation in the field of electricity, with the brotherly Iraqi side, and comes at the forefront of this cooperation in the project of direct electrical connectivity between the two brotherly countries, where specialists from the Saudi side, together with their counterparts on the Iraqi side, are working continuously to complete this ambitious project, to contribute in the future to strengthen the national electricity grid in Iraq, and to alleviate the suffering of our brothers in Iraq, by increasing the capacity of electricity available to the Iraqi network, and providing opportunities for commercial exchange of electric power," he said.
"In addition to the importance of this project as a starting point for regional and international electrical connectivity for both sides, the detailed study of the feasibility of electrical connectivity between the two countries, carried out by a specialized international expertise house, was completed with the participation of specialists from both sides, with full funding from the Saudi side,” he continued.
"The results of the study showed the feasibility of linkage and recommended the best options technically, economically and environmentally," he said, noting that "the two sides are now working to complete the internal regular procedures in the two countries, so that the implementation of the project can begin in accordance with the recommendations of the study."
In the field of renewable energy, the Saudi ambassador stressed, "The Kingdom supports the Republic of Iraq to achieve its goals in the development of the renewable energy sector, by sharing its successful experiences in the development of renewable energy projects, in addition to urge Saudi companies to participate - because of their expertise in this field in renewable energy projects in Iraq."
"The strategic location of the Kingdom and the Republic of Iraq, which provides easier lines for regional and global land trade, encourages both countries to study these economic visions," al-Shammari said, expressing the hope that "all that is good for the two countries and peoples will be achieved."
On the project to invest in the Iraqi desert areas and the reasons for the delay in its work, the Saudi ambassador said, "The project as an idea still exists, and the site was selected and it was later found that this site does not have enough groundwater to meet the need for agricultural investment as the size of Salk International company."
"We hope that the Iraqi agricultural market will benefit from the entry of this company, which will raise food providing in Iraq, transfer technology and develop the Iraqi agricultural and animal sector in general."
Gift of the Kingdom
On the work of the kingdom's gift to build a stadium in Baghdad and delayed the start and completion of it until the moment, al-Shammari stressed, "The project is still in place, and there is a great keenness of officials in both countries to proceed with this project."
"So far, no suitable plot of land has been selected to start a large project of this size that needs special technical specifications and a large, expandable plot of land in the future," he said.
"Work is being done closely with the Iraqi side to complete the requirements for the project," he said.
Cultural cooperation between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
"We will soon see broader cultural cooperation between the two countries, and the awarding of Iraq a guest of honor at the Riyadh International Book Fair is a first step in a broader cultural cooperation to come," Al-Shammari said during the interview.
"The two countries have signed several agreements in this area, the most important of which is a memorandum of cooperation between King Abdul Aziz House, Dar al-Kutub and national documents, and a memorandum of understanding for cooperation between the Iraqi media network and the Kingdom's Radio and Television Corporation," he said.
Saudi support for Iraq in the health field
"The Kingdom has donated to the re-establishment of ibn al-Khatib Hospital, which was the subject of an unfortunate fire, and it has also been announced that the Kingdom will receive critical cases resulting from this incident," the Saudi ambassador said.
"The Kingdom's Ministry of Health had earlier donated a series of medical aid and was delivered to the Iraqi side through the King Salman Relief Center, and the Kingdom had earlier donated the reprocessing of the Children's Cancer Hospital in Basra."
"Earlier, the two countries also signed an agreement to build the 50-bed Saqlawiya Hospital and rehabilitate the general hospital."
"The Kingdom is also open to all the demands of our brothers in Iraq to transfer their long experience in the field of health and research," he said.