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Thursday, January 27, 2022

New Iran administration ‘willing to engage’ with Saudi Arabia


Qatar has offered to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran since the GCC reconciliation.

Tehran will continue to negotiate with rival state Saudi Arabia, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said, despite denying recent reports over meetings at the Baghdad summit.

The course of negotiations with Saudi Arabia will continue and there are no points of disagreement that cannot be overcome,” said Khatibzadeh on Monday, as quoted by Al Jazeera.

The Iranian diplomat also said Tehran has “never refused to extend a hand of friendship and dialogue” to Riyadh, noting that the latter is a neighbouring country which shares several commonalities with Iran to “ensure regional security and stability”.

During his weekly press briefing, Khatibzadeh also denied reports claiming that there were meetings between Iran and Saudi Arabia during the Baghdad summit on Sunday.

EU official says Iran nuclear talks to resume in September as Raisi takes office

“No talks have been held in Baghdad more than what was held before. We did not see any new talks in Baghdad,” he said, responding to a question on whether newly-appointed Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian held a meeting with his Saudi counterpart in Iraq.

Khatibzadeh said that three rounds of talks between the two countries took place in the past and more will be held when necessary.

In May, Iran confirmed “bilateral and regional” talks with Saudi Arabia following reports by the Financial Times regarding discreet meetings between the two countries. Those were reportedly brokered by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.

Shortly after the release of the reports, 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.

The latest statements indicate that President Ebrahim Raisi’s new administration will continue to carry former leader Hassan Rouhani’s foreign policies.

Raisi and Rouhani have also vocally supported the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] following former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the accord.

Since Qatar and Saudi Arabia restored diplomatic ties on 5 January, Doha has expressed its willingness to mediate between the two rival states.

Furthermore, the Doha offered to mediate between the US and Iran in order to restore the 2015 nuclear accord.

Qatar is a strategic ally to the US and enjoys good relations with Iran. Doha’s efforts helped maintain regional stability at the end of 2019 and early 2020 during an attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad as well as the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

Talks to restore the nuclear accord in Vienna have yet to yield results and reports suggest a revival of negotiations in September.

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