BAGHDAD, June 19 (Reuters) - Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi headed on Monday to Saudi Arabia, the first leg of a Middle East tour that will also include Iran and Kuwait, in a diplomatic effort to foster regional reconciliation, his office said.
Abadi’s visit to Saudi Arabia aims to promote reconciliation between the Sunni Muslim kingdom and majority Shi‘ite Iraq and also to help heal deep and bitter divisions between Iraq’s Shi‘ites and its Sunni Muslim minority.
Abadi had been due to visit Riyadh last week but postponed his trip to avoid appearing to take sides in a diplomatic dispute that erupted between Qatar and several other Arab states including Saudi Arabia, officials have said.
Qatar is facing a severe economic and diplomatic boycott by Saudi Arabia and its regional allies, which accuse Doha of funding terrorism, fomenting regional unrest and cosying up to their enemy Iran. Qatar denies the charges. (Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Gareth Jones)