BAGHDAD — Jordan hosted the second round of the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership today, with the participation of regional and European countries. The conference aims to "provide support for the stability, security and prosperity of Iraq," according to a statement from the French presidency, which initiated the first round of the dialogue in 2021.
Leaders and officials from Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman, Bahrain and Iran were in attendance, in addition to French President Emanuel Macron and representatives of the European Union and the United Nations.
The first round was held in Baghdad in August 2021. Oman was not invited to the first round and is a new member of the conference. Syria and Lebanon were not invited to either round.
The conference is meant to discuss “cooperation and partnership mechanisms in facing the current economic, security and climate challenges, and the achievement of integration with the countries of the region in terms of services and economic partnership in a way that enhances the security and stability of the region,” according to the statement from the Iraqi prime minister's media office.
Iran, Jordan and Egypt also held a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the conference to move cooperation and partnership between the three countries forward.
Iraq hosted a conference between the trio last year in which they signed a number of memoranda of understanding in several energy and transportation fields in addition to agreements on joint industrial projects.
The three countries have for years discussed a project to transport oil from the Iraqi city of Basra through a pipeline to Jordan’s Aqaba, and then on to Egypt and other global markets, but the project has not been launched yet due to high costs and internal disputes about it inside Iraq.
Baghdad also signed an agreement with Amman last October to import electricity from Jordan via grid connection, and the two countries are planning to expand the connection to Egypt as well.
During the Baghdad conference Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani stressed that Iraq is willing to be a sponsor of communication and dialogue in the region, “with the aim of calming the atmosphere and bringing the views of the parties closer." He also noted that Baghdad "has strengthened its diplomatic efforts to defuse crises in the region."
“Iraq is committed to building balanced relations of cooperation with all regional and international partners, and it distances itself from alignments of axes and the atmosphere of escalation and seeks a policy of calm and reducing tensions,” Sudani said.
He also highlighted his country's aim to encourage foreign investment in Iraq via building “joint industrial cities” with regional neighbors and launching a “giant economic project” in order to deal with the current economic challenges facing the region in general and Iraq in particular.
Macron slammed external interfence in Iraq in reference to Iran without mentioning the name: "There is a way that is not... a form of hegemony, imperialism, a model that would be dictated from outside".
In addition to Macron and Sudani, the conference was attended by Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Other countries sent either foreign ministers or other officials.
On the Iranian side, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian attended the conference. Prior to the conference, Amir-Abdollahian said the summit in Jordan provides a great opportunity to push nuclear negotiations forward. The fate of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has been in flux since former President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord in 2018.
During the conference, Amir-Abdollahian met with Josep Borrell, the high representative of the EU on foreign affairs, and discussed the current status of the nuclear negotiations and the remaining barriers to an agreement, in addition to allegations of human rights violations in Iran and Iranian drones used by Russia in the war on Ukraine.
During the conference, Borrell stressed that Iraq should not be a proxy battlefield, indicating that it faced serious and great challenges, expressing EU willing to support Iraq.
Per his arrival to Baghdad, Sudani twitted: "The Baghdad Summit 2, hosted by Jordan, affirmed Iraq's pivotal role in the region and the world, and will be a springboard for economic development and serious partnership. Thanks to all the countries participating in the summit, and we will continue to work with our brothers and friends to achieve our economic and development goals in the service of our honorable people."