Saudi Arabia grants Iraq loans as consulate opens

Baghdad: Saudi Arabia’s trade minister announced a one-billion-dollar aid package for Iraq during a visit to Baghdad on Thursday, pledging stronger bilateral ties.
Majed al Qasabi also inaugurated a new Saudi consulate in Baghdad, one of four planned branches to open in Iraq after decades of no diplomatic links between the two countries.
Speaking to reporters alongside Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer Ghadban, Qasabi said the relationship had entered “a new phase”.
“There’s no doubt that this exchange, this discussion, is a two-way street that will strengthen these ties,” said Qasabi, wrapping up a two-day visit.
Saudi Arabia would provide Iraq with $1 billion in loans for development projects, said Qasabi, plus $500 million to boost exports and a gift of a 100,000-seat sports stadium to be built on Baghdad’s outskirts.
A joint Saudi-Iraq business council also proposed dozens of opportunities in Iraq for Saudi private investors and a free trade zone along the desertic border between the two countries, he said.
Ghadban said the council had prepared “memoranda of understanding that will be signed in Riyadh during the upcoming visit of Iraq’s prime minister.”