On Wednesday, a delegation from Baghdad engaged in discussions with officials in Manila to facilitate the recruitment of Filipino healthcare professionals for Iraq. This effort signifies Iraq’s endeavor to reestablish collaboration with the Philippines after a decade-long hiatus.
Iraq and the Philippines established formal relations in 1975 with the opening of the Iraqi embassy in Manila, followed by the Philippines opening its mission in Baghdad five years later. But in the early 2000s, the two countries closed their respective diplomatic offices.
Although the embassies later reopened and the nations signed an agreement in 2012 to increase diplomatic exchanges and develop bilateral relations, the last time an Iraq-Philippines joint committee meeting was held was in 2013.
Bilateral consultations resumed on Wednesday with Iraq’s Deputy Health Minister Khamees Hussein Ali leading a delegation that arrived in Manila for two-day talks with Philippine officials.
“We negotiated a lot of things about the workers, investment, communication, higher education, and about the Health Ministry bringing Filipino nurses to Iraq for training,” Ali said.
His delegation comprised officials from various ministries and private sector representatives, who will also meet Philippine labor and health officials.
“We hope in the near future that a lot of Filipino workers will come to Iraq. Iraq has a good picture of Filipino workers as they are very good,” he added.
Around 4,000 Filipinos are currently living and working in Iraq, many of whom have Iraqi spouses.
Iraq is also open to sharing with the Philippines its expertise in counterterrorism efforts, Ali said.
Iraq Embassy Charge d’Affaires Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Mohammed told Arab News that Baghdad was keen on forming partnerships with the Philippines on various projects.
“It is an opportune time to stimulate the bilateral relations between Manila and Baghdad through the JCM, which aims to enhance development efforts between our governments through joint cooperation in areas of health, energy, trade, investments, air services, consular work, education, and culture,” he said.
“(JCM) will also look into improving ties between our businesses, to explore partnerships that will help us grow our two-way trade and investments.”