Saudi, Iraq to begin work on border crossing

Riyadh is seeking closer ties with its neighbour to boost trade and combat Iran’s influence



Officials from Saudi Arabia and Iraq have met in Riyadh as the two countries prepare to open their land border for trade for the first time in nearly three decades.

The meeting comes following a recent thawing of ties after two countries were at loggerheads for decades following former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s invasion of neighbouring Kuwait in 1990.

These efforts, spurred in part by Riyadh’s efforts to stem the influence of rival Iran, saw directs flights between the kingdom and Iraq resume last October after 27 years.

Read: Saudi Arabian Airlines resumes flying to Iraq after 27 years

That month, the two sides also formed a coordination council to improve relations and help Iraq’s rebuilding efforts after the occupation of areas by ISIL.

The Wednesday meeting saw Saudi Customs and Iraq’s border crossing authority sign an agreement to overcome obstacles in the implementation of a new land port border facility near the Saudi town of Arar, according to Saudi Press Agency.

Read: Saudi Cabinet approves opening of Iraq land border

The agreement commits both sides to the project and includes the appointment of liason officers from both sides to coordinate construction efforts and access for workers.

Work is set to commence on June 1.

The border facility is set to boost trade and investment between the two countries, Saudi Customs governor Ahmad Al-Qabbani said.

In March, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman promised to build a new football stadium in Iraq as ties continue to strengthen.

Read: Saudi king promises football stadium for Iraq