Jordan king visits Iraq for first time in decade

15 January, 2019 12:00 AM printer

BAGHDAD: Jordanian King Abdullah II met Iraqi President Barham Saleh in Baghdad on Monday, according to state television, in the monarch’s first trip to Iraq in more than a decade, reports AFP.

It is the latest in a string of top-level visits to Iraq in recent weeks, which kicked off with a surprise Christmas trip by US President Donald Trump.

King Abdullah’s last visit to Iraq was in 2008, when he became the first Arab leader to go to Baghdad after strongman Saddam Hussein was toppled by the US-led invasion in 2003.

Saleh travelled to Jordan in November.

The two countries share a 179-kilometre (111-mile) border, and Jordan is a major importer of Iraqi crude oil. In 2013, they agreed on a 1,700-kilometre pipeline linking Iraq’s oil-rich Basra province to Jordan’s Aqaba port, but the Islamic State group’s sweep across nearly a third of Iraq put a screeching halt to the plan.

Last year, Jordan approved a framework to revive it, but did not give a timeframe for the line’s construction.

The two states have also discussed plans for Iraq to import around 300 megawatts of electricity from Jordan to cope with widespread power shortages.

Currently, Baghdad relies heavily on its eastern neighbour Iran, importing around 1,300 megawatts of electricity and 28 million cubic metres of natural gas to feed power plants.