Egyptian President and Visiting Iraqi PM Seek to Deepen Ties

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi held talks Sunday with Iraq's prime minister in Cairo as the two countries seek to deepen ties and reinforce a regional alliance with Jordan.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani landed in the Egyptian capital and was greeted at the airport by his counterpart, Mustafa Madbouly. Al-Sudani and Madbouly inspected an honor guard and bands played the national anthems of the two countries.

The Iraqi premier then met with el-Sissi at the presidential palace. Their talks focused on economic cooperation and security ties between the two countries, according to Egyptian presidential spokesman Ahmed Fahmy.

Fahmy said in a statement that the two leaders also discussed regional issues, including their cooperation with Jordan. The statement did not elaborate. Foreign and trade ministers from both countries attended the talks, Fahmy said.

The trip marked al-Sudani's first to Cairo since his Cabinet was approved by the Iraqi parliament in October, ending a yearlong political stalemate. Al-Sudani's predecessor, former Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, had forged a close relationship with el-Sissi and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

El-Sissi traveled to Baghdad in June 2021, becoming the first Egyptian head of state to visit Iraq since the 1990s, when ties between the two countries were severed after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Egypt, Iraq and Jordan have intensified their ties, with their leaders holding five summits since 2019, most recently at the Dead Sea in Jordan in December to discuss implementing strategic projects. Those include building gas pipelines between Iraq and Egypt through Jordan, and an industrial city on the Iraq-Jordan border, Egypt's state-run Al-Ahram daily reported Sunday.

Al-Kadhimi has also sought to strengthen his country's standing in the Middle East as a mediator capable of bringing even the staunchest of foes to the negotiating table. Baghdad recently hosted talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia that were focused on mending ties between the two regional foes, and on the war in Yemen.