March 5, 2018 / 9:23 PM / 17 days ago

Saudi king promises football stadium for Iraq in call with PM Abadi

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s King Salman promised to build Iraq a football stadium following a friendly match between the two countries’ teams last week, in a phone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud gestures as he attends Janadriyah Festival on the northern outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 7, 2018. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

The two leaders also discussed how to enhance and strengthen cooperation between their countries, and the Iraqi-Saudi Joint Coordination Council, a body created last October to improve strategic relations and help rebuild devastated areas retaken from Islamist militants in Iraq.

The phone call was the latest indication of improved relations between the two countries, which have been at loggerheads for decades, starting with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Saudi Arabia is wooing Baghdad as part of an effort to stem the growing regional influence of Iran, while Iraq is seeking economic benefits from closer ties with Riyadh.

Reporting by Raya Jalabi

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