United Arab Emirates The United Arab Emirates canceled billions of dollars of Iraqi debt Sunday and moved to restore a full diplomatic mission in Baghdad, evidence of Iraq's improved security and growing acceptance of its Shiite-led government.
The Abu Dhabi government announced the debt relief and the naming of a new ambassador to Baghdad shortly after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki began a visit to the wealthy Gulf nation.
The news was sure to bolster al-Maliki's government, which has been urging Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors to forgive loans made during Saddam Hussein's regime and restore diplomatic relations.
The Emirates' official news agency, WAM, quoted the president, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as saying he hoped canceling the debt would lighten the "economic burden" facing Iraqis and he urged the country to unite behind al-Maliki's government.
WAM said the debt was $4 billion excluding interest. A UAE official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media said the total debt was $7 billion with interest.