Sunday, November 28, 2021

Iranian Foreign Minister said additional talks are needed with rival Saudi Arabia

BEIRUT (NWN) – Iran’s foreign minister said Friday that Tehran and Riyadh need additional talks with regional main rival Saudi Arabia to improve relations, but negotiations are moving in the right direction so far.

Iran’s top diplomat Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made comments on the last day of his two-day visit to Lebanon. Earlier, he said that negotiations with the kingdom are still at a “decent distance.”

He declined to give details, saying only that both sides had reached “concrete results and agreements,” which will be announced at the right time.

“We are in the process of putting things in the right direction,” Amir-Abdollahyan told reporters at a press conference held at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut. “We consider the ongoing dialogue to be constructive and hope that it serves the interests of both countries.”

The first direct talks between regional rivals, Iran and Saudi Arabia, took place in early April and are believed to have toned down the highly hostile public discourse between them. Since then, there have been several rounds of discussions hosted by Iraq.

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The last round took place at the end of September, for the first time since the new Iranian president was sworn in. The meeting participants said that the two countries agreed on a roadmap, including the restoration of diplomatic representation.

Iran and Saudi Arabia – Shiites and Sunnis in the Middle East – have long been regional rivals. Relations changed dramatically when Riyadh ousted its diplomats after protesters attacked its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad in 2016. The protests were revenge against the kingdom that executed the prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

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