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Sisi lands in Iraq, the first Egyptian presidential visit in decades

An Egyptian head of state had not visited Iraq since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi welcomed by his Iraqi counterpart, Barham Salih, (Reuters)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi made the first visit to Iraq by an Egyptian head of state in more than 30 years on Sunday. 

Relations between the countries were ruptured by then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, though have improved in recent years. 

Jordan's King Abdullah also arrived in Baghdad. The leaders were welcomed by Iraq's President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. They are holding a three-way summit on strengthening their cooperation. 

The United States has been urging Iraq to boost ties with Arab nations to counter Iranian influence in the country.

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Sisi and Abdullah met with Salih and Kadhimi later on Sunday, with Salih saying the encounter was "an eloquent message amid enormous regional challenges".

"Iraq's recovery paves the way to an integrated system for our region built on the fight against extremism, respect for sovereignty and economic partnership," Salih said on Twitter.

The summit broached regional issues, as well as ways of bolstering cooperation between Iraq, Jordan and Egypt in the fields of security, energy and trade, according to a joint statement released at the end of the meeting.

The leaders discussed a "political solution" to Syria's 10-year civil war based on UN resolutions "that would preserve its security and stability and provide adequate conditions for the return of refugees".

The Syria conflict has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions, with refugee flooding the borders of neighbouring countries including Jordan, which lacks resources and faces economic hardships.

Call for an independent Palestinian state

The leaders welcomed efforts underway to restore stability in Libya and Yemen, and called for the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya.

They called for renewed efforts to reach a "just and comprehensive peace" between Israel and the Palestinians, and for the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

They also hailed Egypt's role in negotiating an end to deadly hostilities between Israel and the Gaza Strip's Islamist rulers Hamas in May, and Cairo's pledge to help rebuild the coastal enclave.

Last year, Kadhimi, Sisi and Abdullah held a summit in Amman. They were due to hold another one in Baghdad in April but it was delayed because of a train crash in Egypt that left more than 95 people dead.

In recent years, Iraq has signed cooperation deals in the energy, health and education sectors with Jordan and Egypt.

In February, Egypt signed 15 agreements and memoranda of understanding in various sectors, including oil, roads, housing, construction and trade.

Iraq is also planning to build a pipeline that will connect the southern city of Basra with Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba. It is expected to export one million barrels per day of Iraqi crude to Jordan.