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Iraqi PM Mustafa al-Kadhemi to Visit Saudi, Iran

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi will travel to Saudi Arabia and Iran back-to-back next week, in his first foreign trip as premier, officials said Saturday.

On Sunday, Kadhemi will host Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Baghdad, before travelling with Iraq’s ministers of oil, electricity, planning and finance to Saudi Arabia the following day, Iraqi officials said.

They are set to stay in NEOM, an area in the kingdom’s northwest that is currently under development, and are scheduled to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with whom Kadhemi is known to have warm personal ties.

Baghdad proposed a package of energy-focused development opportunities in Iraq to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, and the talks will likely focus on financing for those proposals, other infrastructure projects, and a reopening of the Arar border crossing between the two countries, the officials said.

They said the delegation will then travel directly to Tehran late Tuesday, where Kadhemi is expected to meet Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei.

Kadhemi rose to the premiership in May after serving as the head of Iraq’s National Intelligence Service for nearly four years, which helped him form a close relationship with Prince Mohammed.

He is also known to be respected by Iran’s intelligence services and government circles.

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