After 27 years, Saudi, Iraq to open borders

BAGHDAD: Iraqi and Saudi officials on Wednesday inspected a border crossing between their countries to examine how to reopen the frontier, closed for the past 27 years, officials said.
The border has been shut to all travellers except Iraqi pilgrims heading to and from Mecca since Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Riyadh and Baghdad reached a deal “to renovate the Arar border post and fully open it for trade and passage for visitors between the two countries” when Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi visited Saudi Arabia in June, his spokesman Saad al Hadithi said.
Thamer al Sabhan, a Saudi junior minister and former ambassador to Baghdad, visited the Arar border post in southwestern Iraq along with Iraqi officials and Brett McGurk, the senior US envoy to the international coalition fighting the IS group in Iraq and Syria.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia are also mulling reopening a second border post at Al Jemayma in southern Iraq, Hadithi said.
Sabhan tweeted a picture of himself at the border with the caption “from the Iraq of brotherhood and friendship”.
In 2016, Sabhan became the first Saudi ambassador to Iraq in a quarter century, after ties were cut following the invasion of
Kuwait.
Faleh al Essawi, a senior Iraqi provincial council official also visited the crossing. — AFP