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BAGHDAD: Baghdad is to host a regional summit late this month, with French President Emmanuel Macron also attending, the Iraqi premier’s office said Monday.

Iraq’s foreign ministry said Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman have been invited, although an exact date has not been announced.

The announcement comes as Baghdad is under pressure from powerful pro-Iran armed groups in Iraq to ensure that American personnel from a US-led coalition, comprised in part of French troops, withdraw from the country. It also comes as Turkey tries to improve its relations with Gulf states, notably Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Baghdad has not said whether newly inaugurated President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran, the arch-enemy of Saudi Arabia and the United States, would attend.

Iraq is seeking to establish itself as a mediator between Arab countries and Iran.

Macron told Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi in a phone call that he planned to visit Iraq to attend the conference, Kadhemi’s office said. It would be Macron’s second visit to the country in less than a year.

Iraq, an ally of both Tehran and Washington, has been an arena for bitter rivalry between Iran and the US, a key ally of Saudi Arabia.

Baghdad has this year hosted senior Iranian and Saudi officials in efforts to help Tehran and Riyadh restore their relations, which collapsed in 2016.

A rebuilding of ties between those two regional heavyweights would benefit Iraq, which regularly sees rocket attacks by pro-Iran groups against US interests, including troops sent by Washington to fight the Sunni extremist Islamic State group (IS).

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