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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Iran says talks with Saudi Arabia depend on kingdom’s ‘seriousness’


The two countries have held four rounds of talks in recent months.

Iran said holding a new round of talks with Saudi Arabia over ongoing tensions between the two countries would depend on the kingdom’s “seriousness”.

Speaking at a weekly press conference in Tehran on Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh invited Riyadh to take on a “diplomatic and political approach and respect the principle of non-interference in other countries”.

“We call on Riyadh [to take on] political and diplomatic solutions as well as avoid interference in the affairs of other countries, because we believe that comprehensive regional arrangements will be achieved through mutual respect and understanding of the facts by the countries of the region,” said Khatibzadeh, as quoted by Reuters.

Khatibzadeh added that there have been no new developments in talks with Saudi Arabia and that Tehran is still waiting on a response from Riyadh.

Read also: Iran rejects ‘unconstructive’ joint GCC summit statement as nuclear talks adjourn

Responding to reports over a meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud in Islamabad on Sunday, Khatibzadeh described it as an “unofficial”.

The kingdom severed relations with the Islamic Republic in 2016 after Iranian protesters stormed Saudi diplomatic sites following Riyadh’s execution of popular Muslim scholar Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Strained relations further worsened following the election of former US President Donald Trump, who openly favoured Saudi Arabia’s leadership for its confrontation with Iran.

During the latest GCC crisis in 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt launched an illegal land, air and sea blockade on Qatar over claims that is sponsors terrorism. Doha has vehemently denied those allegations.

The quartet claimed the move was due to Qatar’s relations with Iran and Turkey.

GCC summit calls for action from Iran as Vienna talks continue

However, when the GCC crisis was resolved following the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration earlier this year, Qatar offered to mediate between Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran.

Since then, Saudi Arabia and Iran have engaged in several rounds of talks in recent months, with positive statements being released from both sides.

In October, Riyadh’s foreign minister said talks with Iran had been “cordial” but have yet to reach substantial results”.

The Saudi official’s comments came following a fourth round of talks between Riyadh and Tehran that took place on 21 September, just weeks after the inauguration of new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Previous AFP reports stated that the two countries had reached an agreement “in principle” to reopen consulates in the two countries, but there have been no updates since.

More recently, Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Bagheri said that some “misunderstandings” between Iran and its regional rivals the UAE and Saudi Arabia had been resolved following meetings with officials.

“On regional issues, we have had meetings with officials of the Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and some misunderstandings have been cleared up. We also have good relations with Qatar and Kuwait,” said Bagheri last week.

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