Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said he would visit Iraq this week to discuss energy and trade, in another sign of improving ties between the Arab world and the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad.
The trip will be the first by a Lebanese prime minister since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and underlines the growing willingness of Arab countries to re-engage with the country.
“I will travel to Iraq after two days,” Siniora told a news conference, adding that Iraq’s oil resources and Lebanon’s services and commodities offered the chance for a mutually beneficial relationship.
King Abdullah of Jordan visited Iraq on Aug. 11, becoming the first Arab head of state to do so since the invasion that toppled former President Saddam Hussein.
Washington has urged Iraq’s Arab neighbors to do more to embrace Baghdad, whose Shi’ite-dominated government complains of cool treatment by an overwhelmingly Sunni-led Arab world.
Siniora, a Sunni politician who has Saudi support, heads a new Lebanese national unity government that includes Hezbollah, a powerful Shi’ite group backed by Iran.
Last month, senior Lebanese politician Saad al-Hariri met Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad. (Reuters)