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Saudis make surprise trip to Iraq: Why now?

Saudi Arabia is making overtures to Iraq as Iran's influence expands in the region.
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir delivers his speech during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 19, 2017.   REUTERS/Michaela Rehle - RTSZCG2

NAJAF, Iraq — Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir made an unannounced visit Feb. 25 to Baghdad, seeking to re-establish long-severed ties with Iraq, perhaps with an eye toward the Saudi role in the region once the Islamic State (IS) is defeated.

This visit is the first by a top Saudi official since 1990, when then-Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal came to Baghdad along with King Fahd to attend the Arab summit. Saudi Arabia did send its ambassador, Thamer al-Sabhan, to Iraq for the first time in June 2015 after 25 years of severed diplomatic relations. Sabhan, however, left Baghdad last year at the request of the Iraqi government and no replacement was appointed.

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