Saudi Arabia: We are serious about talks with Iran

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Friday said they are serious about talks with Iran as part of their agenda to stabilize the region. 

“We are serious about the talks,” Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, Saudi foreign minister, told the Financial Times. “For us it’s not that big a shift. We’ve always said we want to find a way to stabilize the region.”

He described the talks as “cordial” and exploratory, according to FT.

In August, Iraqi moderation brought the regional foes to the table when Baghdad hosted a summit for neighboring countries. Baghdad had previously moderated talks between Tehran and Riyadh. 

The minister met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday and they discussed Iran. “The two sides exchanged views on the Iranian nuclear program and the international negotiations in this regard,” Saudi state media reported.

Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic have had rocky relations since 1979 when Shia revolutionaries came to power in Iran and pledged to export their revolution to the world, including to the Gulf countries. Iran’s support for the Houthi rebels in the Yemeni civil war since late 2014 has caused concerns for the Saudi establishment.

Their relations took a notable dive in 2016, when Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions after the Kingdom executed Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. They also criticize each other’s nuclear activities.

Officials from both countries have expressed hope their talks will produce tangible results. 

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Iran’s foreign ministry last month said they should be able to reach a good understanding if Saudi Arabia accepts that “the solution to the problems in the region lies within the region itself.”

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Arab Observer

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