Several Middle Eastern leaders and French President Emmanuel Macron meet in Baghdad on Saturday for a summit hosted by Iraq, which wants its neighbors to engage in dialogue instead of resolving their territorial disputes.
According to Reuters, relations in the region are particularly strained by hostility between Iran on the one hand and the United States and its Gulf allies on the other.
Organizers say they do not expect any diplomatic solutions to be found.
“Bringing these countries around a table is a great achievement in itself,” said an Iraqi government official.
The participating heads of state include Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Jordan's King Abdullah, Qatari Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and French President Emmanuel Macron. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have sent their heads of government and Turkey has sent its foreign minister.
Macron's two-day visit to Iraq is aimed at demonstrating his support for regional dialogue, meeting with Iraqi political leaders and visiting French special forces involved in the fight against Islamic State.
Shiite Muslim Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, rivals for regional supremacy, have long failed to send heads of state or government. Iran has said it will send Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdolahian, while Saudi Arabia has not yet announced who will represent it.
The two countries resumed direct dialogue in Iraq in April this year but no significant results have been achieved so far.
Iranian officials have said they are focusing more on the outcome of talks in Vienna with Western powers over Iran's nuclear program and international sanctions.