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Tillerson Arrives In Saudi Arabia For Joint Talks With Iraqi Officials


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (right) is greeted as he arrives at King Salman Air Base on October 21 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has arrived in Riyadh to attend a meeting between officials from Saudi Arabia and Iraq in the start of a six-day tour that will also take him to Qatar, Pakistan, and India.

Tillerson touched down at the King Salman Air Base on October 21 and later held his only meeting of the day, a working dinner with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

Tillerson is scheduled on October 22 to attend the inaugural session of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, formed to improve relations between Riyadh and Baghdad and promoted by the United States as a means to counter Iran's influence in the region.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has also traveled to Saudi Arabia to join Tillerson and Saudi leaders to discuss urgent regional issues.

Amid a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iraq in recent months, on Wednesday, a Saudi commercial plane flew into Baghdad for the first time in 27 years.

Sunni-Muslim-ruled Saudi Arabia is a key U.S. ally and a regional rival of Shi'ite-ruled Iran, which has close ties with Iraq’s Shi'ite-led government.

Tillerson will make a stop in Doha for talks with Qatari officials, with the focus likely to be on ending a bitter diplomatic dispute with a Saudi-led coalition of Arab nations.

The Saudis and their allies have accused Qatar of funding regional terrorism and of having too close ties with Tehran, allegations Doha denies.

The United States has a large military facility in Qatar.

Based on reporting by Reuters,AP and DPA
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