Iran FM welcomes comments by senior Saudi official
TEHRAN — On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said recent comments from a senior Saudi official indicated Riyadh was ready to restore ties, saying Iran appreciated such remarks.
“Recent remarks by a senior Saudi official show their desire to establish bilateral relations with Iran, and we welcome that,” Amir Abdollahian told the official IRNA news agency.
He said Iran and Saudi Arabia had held four rounds so far and “we are satisfied that Saudi Arabia is taking the path of dialogue.”
The Iranian administration, headed by President Ebrahim Raisi, is determined to improve relations with neighboring countries, the foreign minister added.
In an interview published last week, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Atlantic that his kingdom and Iran were “neighbors forever”.
“We can’t get rid of them, and they can’t get rid of us,” he said, according to a transcript released by the official Saudi Press Agency.
“So it’s better for both of us to find a solution and look for ways to coexist,” he added, expressing hope that “we can come to a position that is good for both countries.”
After the kingdom’s execution of famous Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr in 2016, angry protesters attacked Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran and its consular office in Mashhad.
Although the attacks were condemned by senior Iranian officials, Riyadh severed ties with Tehran.
However, since April, the two countries have held four rounds of talks in Iraq aimed at restoring ties.
“These talks created a good atmosphere and brought results, albeit modest, and we are happy that Saudi Arabia has taken the path of dialogue,” said the head of Iranian diplomacy.
“We have different views and approaches on some issues in the region, but the parties’ handling of differences can serve the interests of both nations,” he added.
Amir Abdollahian said Tehran and Riyadh have opposing views on regional issues, but handling these disagreements could benefit both countries.
Iran and Saudi Arabia differ greatly over the war in Yemen.
Amir Abdollahian said a solution to Yemen’s seven-year war must be “political and based on Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue, free from foreign interference”.
Iraj Masjedi, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, announced that the fifth round of Iran-Saudi talks would soon be held in Baghdad.
Recently, Amir Abdollahian said that Iran welcomes a new round of talks with Saudi Arabia.
“We left the way clear for Saudi Arabia. Whenever Saudi Arabia decides to normalize its diplomatic relations with Iran, we welcome the reopening of embassies and the return to normal relations and even the development of relations with Saudi Arabia. We are happy that three of our diplomats were stationed in Jeddah a few weeks ago,” the foreign minister told a national conference on Iran and its neighbors.
Noting that the ball is in Riyadh’s court, the Foreign Minister added: “Saudi Arabia must now decide when to open the embassies of both countries. We welcome the new round of talks, and we would also like to stress that lengthy talks do not just require a return to normal relations, but a political decision. We in government have decided that Saudi Arabia can take the necessary steps to restore relations with Iran whenever they come to a conclusion.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein announced during a visit to Tehran that talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Baghdad would resume soon.