Iraq pursuing better ties with neighbors: Premier

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Friday asserted that his government is eager to “consolidate” ties with neighboring countries.

Al-Abadi made the comment at a meeting of Iraqi ambassadors in capital Baghdad.

“We want to establish normal relations with all of our neighbors in the upcoming period,” he told meeting participants.

Iraqi political leaders have repeatedly said that maintaining solid relations with neighboring states serves the country’s interest — especially after the ISIS terrorist group’s expulsion from Iraq last year.

“Iraqi diplomacy is playing an important role in strengthening relations and minimizing differences — policies that ultimately contribute to the national interest,” he said.

The prime minister did not, however, specify the neighboring states with whom Iraq was seeking improved ties.

Last December, Iraq declared defeat of ISIS, three years after the Takfiri terrorist group swept through the country humiliating the army and seizing some of its largest cities. Some Iraqi officials had accused neighboring Saudi Arabia of being a major financier of ISIS

Defeating ISIS had been the main priority for al-Abadi, who faces elections this year. Backed by the voluntary Popular Mobilization Forces, Iraqi government forces retook all territories previously occupied by ISIS in the country.

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