By Padraig O'Hannelly.
Following the increase in tensions in the Gulf region in recent weeks, two British diplomats have expressed the view that Iraq could have a positive role to play.
Addressing delegates at CWC's Iraq Petroleum conference in London, the British Ambassador to Iraq, Jonathan Wilks CMG, said:
"Iraq is strong enough now to keep itself out of whatever may develop between the US and Iran, as long as it asserts its sovereignty and independence with all countries, not just with Iran and the US, but with all countries east and west. It is powerful enough to do this now ... [and] must be taken seriously as an economic power.
"Iraq is back as a reasonable, constructive and credible player in world affairs."
Later at the same gathering, Sir William Patey KCMG (pictured on left), a former UK Ambassador to both Iraq and Saudi Arabia, said:
"Iraq is in a unique position, in that it has equity in ensuring that there isn't a war ... and I think a confident new Iraq could play a role.
"It has better relations with Saudi Arabia, it has good relations with Iran, it has a close relationship with the United States, and it has a lot at stake. So I actually think in terms of reducing the tensions, I think there is potential for Iraq, and I think the current leadership of Iraq has the [right] vision and outlook."