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|24 February, 2018

Saudi FM: We have worked to strengthen relations with Iraq in many areas

Iraq has a very important role in the Arab world and we support reconstruction efforts there: minister

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir attends the Arab League foreign ministers extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation in Jerusalem, in Cairo, Egypt February 1, 2018.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir attends the Arab League foreign ministers extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation in Jerusalem, in Cairo, Egypt February 1, 2018.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

The Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Friday that Saudi Arabia has worked to strengthen relations with Iraq in many areas.

"Iraq has a very important role in the Arab world and we support reconstruction efforts there," he said in Brussels at the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations.

Saudi Arabia recently pledged $1.5 billion of financial support for reconstruction efforts in Iraq after the war to defeat Daesh.

Al-Jubeir also spoke about the situation in Syria, where a relentless regime bombardment of a rebel-held territory near Damascus has killed more than 400 people this week.

The UN Security Council will vote on Friday on a draft resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire.

Saudi Arabia on Thursday called for a halt to the attack on Eastern Ghouta.

“We seek to restore stability to Syria and support the Geneva resolutions for a peaceful solution,” Al-Jubeir said on Friday.

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has been backed militarily by Iran and Russia, and their support has given him the upper hand in the conflict.

Arab countries fear that Iran is using proxy militias in Syria and elsewhere in the region to expand its influence.

The Saudi foreign minister said Iran is "the single biggest threat to the region and perhaps to the world," and that Iranian-backed militias play a negative role in the region.

Speaking about the situation in Yemen, where Iran backs rebels fighting against the government, he said: "It is complex and we did not seek war there”.

He also said the Houthis have “repeatedly undermined efforts to reach a solution in Yemen.”

Saudi Arabia leads an Arab military coalition fighting to restore the government to full control of the country.

Al-Jubeir also said that Saudi Arabia has opened channels to deliver aid to Yemen to alleviate the humanitarian tragedy there.

The foreign minister again called on Qatar to cease its support for terrorism and its “intervention in the affairs of neighboring countries.”

"The crisis with Qatar is very small compared to challenges in the region,” he said.

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