Iraq-Saudi Arabia border crossing opens for trade, first time since 1990

Iraq-Saudi Arabia border crossing opens for trade
Saudi Governor of the Northern Borders Region, Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Sultan, speaks during the Saudi and Iraqi border opening ceremony at Arar Border check post, Saudi Arabia, November 18, 2020. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

November 18, 2020

AL-NUKHAIB, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraq and Saudi Arabia opened the Arar border crossing for trade for the first time in three decades, the Iraqi border ports commission said on Wednesday.

Arar has been closed since 1990 after the two countries cut ties following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

Iraqi and Saudi officials including the Saudi ambassador to Iraq toured the site on Wednesday.

Riyadh has been wooing Baghdad as part of an effort to stem the growing regional influence of Iran, while Iraq is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with its southern neighbour.

The Saudi-Iraqi rapprochement extends back to 2015, when Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Baghdad following a 25-year break.

In July Saudi Arabia and Iraq signed investment agreements on energy and sports.

“The Saudi-Iraq relations have been cut for about 27 years, and now we celebrate an accomplishment that suits the Saudi-Iraqi relations,” Saudi Ambassador Abdulaziz Alshamri said.

“We welcome all Iraqi products to be exported to Saudi and through this border, there will be an exchange of visits between the two countries…,” he added.

(This story corrects Saudi Ambassador’s name in paragraph 7 to Abdulaziz (not Abdulah) Alshamri)

(Reporting by Kamal Namaa and Amina Ismail; Editing by Catherine Evans, Editing by William Maclean)