Iraq summit brings together rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran

BAGHDAD (AP) — A summit organized by Iraq brought together regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran on Saturday as part of a broader effort by Iraqi leaders to fashion the country’s image as a friend among neighbors.

Scarred by more than three decades of war, Iraq is recasting itself as a mediator among neighbors who are often at odds over weighty issues, including the civil war in Syria and U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The summit, hosted by Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi, brought together top lawmakers of Iraq’s six neighbors: Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, and Kuwait.

“Today, Iraq is building a promising strategic partnership with all neighboring countries without any reservations or favoring any party,” said Halbousi.

The regional meeting Saturday follows months of high-profile diplomacy that has involved Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and President Barham Salih to engage with the neighbors.

Abdul-Mahdi made visits in quick succession to Iran and Saudi Arabia earlier this year, emphasizing that Iraq would not favor one or the other in the rivalry between them.