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Tillerson Attends Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council In Riyadh

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 attended a meeting between Saudi Arabia and Iraq aimed at improving ties between Riyadh and Baghdad following years of tensions.

In Riyadh on October 22, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and Saudi King Salman held the inaugural session of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, which was promoted by the United States as a means to counter Iran’s influence in the region.

Tillerson said the meeting highlights "the great potential of the relations between your countries."

Abadi hailed the talks as an "important step toward enhancing relations," echoing similar comments from King Salman.

"We are facing in our region serious challenges in the form of extremism, terrorism, as well as attempts to destabilize our countries," the Saudi monarch said. "These attempts require our full attention."

Baghdad is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with Riyadh as Iraq struggles to rebuild after ousting the extremist group Islamic State from most of its territory.

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

Tillerson arrived in Saudi Arabia on October 21 at the start of his six-day tour that will also take him to Qatar, Pakistan, and India.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP