Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in the United Arab Emirates'
capital of Abu Dhabi for an official two-day visit. VOA's Suzanne
Presto reports on the growing ties from Iraqi Kurdistan's city of Irbil.
Mr. Maliki and his delegation were greeted with fanfare and the Iraqi national anthem when they landed in Abu Dhabi.
the delegation arrived at President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al
Nahyan's palace, the officials were greeted with an announcement that
also must have been music to their ears.
The Emirates' official
news agency quotes Sheikh Khalifa as saying the UAE has canceled about $4 billion in debt owed by Iraq. Once interest is factored
in, Emirati officials say that figure reaches about $7 billion.
The official news agency also quotes the president as
saying he made the gesture in an effort to help Iraq carry out
In another development, diplomatic
sources say that the UAE has named its envoy to India, Abdullah Ibrahim
al Shehhi, as the new ambassador to Iraq. The decision to open an
embassy in Baghdad and appoint an ambassador was announced last month.
visiting the president's palace, Mr. Maliki said Arab nations must
cooperate to address political, security and economic issues in the
The prime minister said his visit to the Emirates
shows Iraq is serious about Arabian unity, as well as a specific desire
to deepen its bond with the UAE.
In recent months, the United States has increasingly pressed Arab nations to strengthen ties with Iraq's government.
and the Emirates have taken steps to improve diplomatic relations. One
month ago, the Emirati foreign minister, Abdallah bin Zayid
al-Nuhayyan, visited Baghdad. His trip to Iraq was the first by an
Emirati top diplomat since the end of Saddam Hussein's reign in 2003.
government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said it is clear that the UAE is
making a strategic effort to build its relationship with Iraq.
He said he believes this stronger relationship will be beneficial for both sides.
added that Iraq is looking to the UAE for assistance in projects to
provide services to Iraqis, and he emphasized that his nation is also
looking forward to deepening ties with other Arabian countries.