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Maliki Accuses Saudi Arabia of Being Unfriendly Neighbor

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has criticized neighboring Saudi Arabia, accusing the Sunni Muslim kingdom of being unfriendly toward Iraq's Shi'a-led government.

Maliki, a Shi'a Muslim, made the comments in a November 7 interview with Alhurra-Iraq TV in Baghdad.

“We don’t’ have any problems [with the governments of neighboring countries] anymore except for Saudi Arabia," he said. "Saudi Arabia has chosen not to be a friend of Iraq. In contrast, Iraq wants friendly relations with Saudi Arabia.

"We don’t have disputes [with others].We don’t need money. We don’t have border problems or territorial disputes. We are not involved in our neighbors’ internal disputes. We don’t have any problems with anyone except Saudi Arabia. And whenever we try to solve our problems with them, we hear [negative] statements.

"Recently, the Saudi Prince who visited Washington before us [last week] made a statement that also made the Americans angry. He said that [Saudi Arabia] will not change its [policies toward Iraq] as long as Shi'a are ruling Iraq."

Maliki had announced after visiting Washington last week that he was planning a visit to Saudi Arabia in the near future in an attempt to improve ties.

WATCH: Nuri al-Maliki Criticizes Saudi Arabia
Iraqi PM Maliki On Iraqi-Saudi Relations
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Relations between the two countries have been strained by conflicting positions on Syria and Iran, among other issues.

Maliki – who supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and has friendly ties with Sh'ia-led Iran -- did not specify a date for the visit.

U.S. lawmakers have accused Maliki of mismanaging Iraqi politics, saying he pursues a "sectarian and authoritarian agenda" that has contributed to a surge of sectarian violence in Iraq during 2013.

The bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers have called for future U.S. security assistance and weapons deals to be linked to policy changes from Maliki that give Sunni Muslims a greater stake in Iraqi politics.

It is partly due to those concerns that the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee are refusing to give their necessary approval to a deal supplying advanced Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters to Iraq.

But Maliki believes the deal eventually will get all the necessary approvals needed from officials in Washington.

"Through my meetings [last week] with the president and vice president and secretary of defense -- [I am confident] that the agreement on buying Apache helicopters is still there," he said. "For now, it is only frozen."

Maliki also says that Iraq should have an active role in helping to broker a resolution to Syria’'s civil war that “isolates” Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Syria like the Al-Nusra Front – which he described as "the main threat for Syria and Iraq."

"For that reason, the American side knows how dangerous the situation in Syria is for Iraq and how terrorism is impacting on Iraq," he said. "Washington insists, like us, that Al-Qaeda and the Al-Nusra Front should not have any role in the political life of Syria. If that situation came to be the reality on the ground, [the Americans] would prefer to keep [Assad's] regime in place instead. And that is good. It’s a good indication and strong position from the American side against Al-Qaeda and extremists."

Maliki described Iraq’s role as a "spearhead" in the fight against terrorism and Islamic extremism.

"When Iraq is stable, the whole region will be stable," he said.

Based on an interview by Alhurra's Falh Al-Dhahabi

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