Saudi Arabia, Arab League welcome nomination of new Iraq PM as 'good news'

A hand out photograph made available by the offices of Iraqi President on August 11, 2014, shows newly elected Iraqi parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi (left) watching as Iraqi President Fuad Masum (second from left) shakes hands with deputy parliame
A hand out photograph made available by the offices of Iraqi President on August 11, 2014, shows newly elected Iraqi parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi (left) watching as Iraqi President Fuad Masum (second from left) shakes hands with deputy parliamentary speaker Haidar al-Abadi (right) after he was tasked with forming a government during a brief ceremony broadcast on state television. -- PHOTO: AFP

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) - Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal on Tuesday welcomed the nomination of Haidar al-Abadi as the new prime minister of Iraq to replace divisive incumbent Nouri al-Maliki as "good news".

The nomination was also welcomed by Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.

Sunni Saudi Arabia had strained ties with Shi'ite Mr Maliki, whom it accused of creating conditions for a jihadist-led offensive by marginalising Iraq's Sunni Arab minority.

"This is the good news I heard lately," the veteran diplomat said during a news conference in the western Saudi city of Jeddah, when asked to comment on Abadi's nomination.

Oil kingpin Saudi Arabia shares more than 800km of border with Iraq and has been alarmed by the jihadist offensive led by Sunni militants who have captured large swathes of its neighbour.

In June, Prince Saud warned of the risks of civil war in Iraq with unpredictable consequences for the region and blamed Mr Maliki's "sectarian policies" for the increased violence there.

Mr Maliki in turn accused Saudi Arabia of supporting "terrorism" in his Shi'ite majority country.

Arab League chief Mr Arabi on Tuesday also backed the nomination of the new Iraqi premier, joining an international chorus of approval for the sidelining of outgoing Prime Minister Maliki.

Mr Arabi "welcomed Iraqi President Fuad Masum's tasking of Haidar al-Abadi to form a new government," a statement said.