Saudi and Iraqi diplomats agreed at a March 12 meeting in Riyadh to stop exchanging aggressive remarks and to establish a coordination council to discuss outstanding issues and promote bilateral relations. That same day, an Iraqi delegation led by Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Nizar al-Khairallah discussed cooperating on economics, security and tourism with Saudi diplomats. Riyadh, however, remains reluctant to move further toward normalizing relations due to concerns over Iran's influence in Iraq and the Iraqi government's inability to exert full control over Shiite militias.
Abdul Bari Zebari, the head of the Iraqi parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, told Al-Monitor earlier this month that Iraqi officials at all levels, including the president, prime minister and parliament speaker, had expressed their willingness to build good relations with Saudi Arabia during multiple visits to Riyadh since 2003. He added that they had sensed the Saudis' hesitation to work on improving ties, but that they had their reasons.