RIYADH: Saudi Arabiainfo-icon's King Salman received Iraqinfo-icon's president in Riyadh on Sunday, a day after the Iraqi official visited the kingdom's rival, Iraninfo-icon.

Barham Salih's back-to-back visits to Iran and Saudi Arabia reflect the delicate balance Iraq seeks to maintain in a region where its two powerful neighbours are battling for supremacy.

Salih was received at the airport in Riyadh by the province's governor and other Saudi officials. King Salman held a lunch in honour of the Iraqi president with ministers and high-level princes in attendance.

Salih, a 58-year-old moderate Kurd elected to the largely ceremonial role last month, was on an overnight visit at the invitation of the Saudi monarch, an Iraqi official said.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency released few details about Salih's talks with the monarch.

On Saturday, Salih was in Tehraninfo-icon where he pledged to improve trade ties less than two weeks after the USinfo-icon restored oilinfo-icon sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear accord.

Iran has had major influence over Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, and is a key supplier of electricity, gas and goods to Iraqi markets. The two countries on Saturday vowed to expand trade to $20 billion a year, from $8.5 billion in 2018, despite the punishing US sanctions against Iran.

Iraq is Iran's second-largest marketinfo-icon after Chinainfo-icon, buying everything from foodinfo-icon and machinery to electricity and natural gas.

But Saudi Arabia has been steadily courting Iraq in recent years, following a quarter-century estrangement brought about by Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwaitinfo-icon.

In October 2017, Saudi budget airline flynas made the first commercial flight from Riyadh to Baghdadinfo-icon in 27 years.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia's oil minister was in Baghdad to discuss stabilising oil prices in the wake of the latest US sanctions against Iran.

A flurry of meetings between Saudi officials and the new Iraqi government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi Riyadh in recent weeks suggest the Gulf kingdom is aiming to counter Iran's economic footprint in Iraq.

"Both literally and figuratively, Iraq finds itself stuck between two competing neighbours: Saudi Arabia and Iran," columnist Abdulrahman al-Rashed wrote in the leading Saudi daily Arab News on Sunday.

"The tripartite relationship ... is tangled and complex," he wrote. "It remains to be seen how senior officials in Iraq decide they want to define this relationship and deal with the two governments."