Cairo: A high-level Iraqi delegation was expected on Wednesday to arrive in Saudi Arabia for cooperation talks amid violent protests in Iraq fuelled by frequent power outages.

Iraqi Planning Minister Salman Al Jumeili is leading the delegation, which also comprises ministers of electricity, oil and transport. The visit comes a day after Iraq announced the failure of talks with Iran over resumption of electricity exports that Tehran halted last month.

The Iraqi Planning Ministry said that the visit comes at the directives of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi, who is trying to defuse the angry mass protests against a lack of basic services and unemployment mainly in the country’s south. The protests are now in their second week.

In August last year, Al Abadi and Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz announced the establishment of a joint coordination council in a sign of improved ties between the two Arab countries.

“The delegation will discuss with the Saudi side important issues as part of the coordination council,” said the Iraqi planning minister. He added that energy cooperation will top the agenda of the talks.

“The Iraqi delegation will also discuss other issues related to boosting air, maritime and land transportation between the two countries,” Al Jumeili added in a statement.

Iraqi media reported that Al Abadi ordered the talks with Saudi Arabia after Iran stopped exporting electricity to his country at the peak of the summer heat, exacerbating Iraq’s energy crunch.