Sisi makes first Iraq visit by Egyptian leader in decades

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. /VCG

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrived in Baghdad on Sunday, marking the first visit by an Egyptian head of state to Iraq since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.

The conflict ruptured diplomatic relations between Iraq and Egypt but these have improved in recent years with many senior officials from both countries exchanging visits.

The United States has been urging Iraq to boost ties with Arab nations to counter Iran’s influence in the country and Sisi’s visit is part of a summit between Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

This is their fourth round of talks aimed at strengthening security, economic, trade and investment cooperation. In recent years, Iraq had signed cooperation deals in the energy, health and education sectors with Jordan and Egypt.

Jordan’s King Abdullah arrived in Baghdad shortly after Sisi and was also received by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and Iraqi President Barham Salih.

Kadhimi, Sisi and Abdullah held a summit in Amman last year and were due to hold another in Baghdad in April, but this was delayed after a train crash in Egypt that left dozens dead and wounded.

Egypt signed 15 deals and memoranda of understanding in sectors including oil, roads, housing, construction and trade in February after Iraq’s cabinet in December approved renewing its contract to supply the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) with 12 million barrels of Basra light crude for 2021.

“The president affirmed Egypt’s aspiration in developing bilateral cooperation with Iraq into a sustainable framework of economic integration and strategic cooperation, especially in light of the great challenges facing the region,” an Egypt presidency statement said.

Iraq is also planning to build a pipeline that is meant to export 1 million barrels per day of Iraqi crude from the southern city of Basra to Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba.