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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (C) walks during his visit to Mosul, Iraq May 29, 2017. Iraqi Prime Minister Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi postponed a Saudi Arabia to avoid taking sides in the rift between the kingdom and Qatar, Iraqi officials said on Thursday.

Wednesday's planned visit was postponed "so that it would not be considered as supporting one side against the other", Jabbar al-Abadi, a lawmaker close to the prime minister, told Reuters.

Qatar is facing a severe economic and diplomatic boycott by Saudi Arabia and its regional allies who cut ties last week, in the worst rift among Gulf Arab states in years. They accuse Qatar of funding terrorism, fomenting regional unrest and cosying up to their enemy Iran, all of which Qatar denies.

Abadi's visit to Saudi Arabia was to foster reconciliation between the Sunni Muslim kingdom and majority Shi'ite Iraq - and help heal deep and bitter divisions between Iraq's Shi'ites and Sunnis.

Abadi's office confirmed that the visit, during which Abadi was to meet with Saudi King Salman, was postponed, possibly to next week, without giving a reason.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Alison Williams)

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