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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Iran ‘hopes to reach understanding’ as officials confirm talks with Saudi Arabia


Qatar offered to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran following the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration on January 5th.

Iran has confirmed “bilateral and regional” talks with Saudi Arabia during a weekly press conference on Monday, after reports pointed towards discreet negotiations between the regional-rivals.

“It is definitely in the interest of both countries and the region to de-escalate tensions. We hope to reach a meaningful understanding of bilateral relations and regional developments by changing the atmosphere,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

“We welcome resolving of the issues that have existed between the two countries. We will do our best in this regard,” he said.

The confirmation comes following comments to Reuters by Ambassador Rayed Krimly’s, head of policy planning at Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry, who said ongoing talks aim to reduce regional tensions.

“We hope they prove successful, but it is too early and premature, to reach any definitive conclusions. Our evaluation will be based on verifiable deeds, and not proclamations,” he said.

Read also: Qatar’s FM urges ‘positive’ discussions at Iran nuclear deal talks

In April, a report by the Financial Times revealed a meeting, reportedly brokered by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, was held to discuss restoration of ties between the two countries.

Reuters also reported on Wednesday that Iraq’s president confirmed his country hosted more than one round of talks between the two regional rivals.

Iran and Saudi Arabia severed their diplomatic ties in 2016 after years of tensions over several issues that include support for opposing forces in wars and conflicts, namely Yemen and Syria.

Throughout the dispute, Qatar has maintained cordial relations with the Islamic Republic.

This was one of the main points of contention for the 2017 Gulf crisis, which saw Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt impose a blockade on Qatar.

However, since the signing the historic Al-Ula accord on January 5th this year – which triggered the return of diplomatic ties between Qatar and the former blockading quartet – Doha has offered to mediate between Riyadh and Tehran.

“We welcome any dialogue, efforts and positive spirits regarding relations between Iran and the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia. We support such efforts and believe that dialogue is a constructive step in the stability of the region,” Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told Al Jazeera on Friday.

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