Iranian, Saudi FMs held heated debate in mid-November in Vienna: source

November 28, 2015 - 0:0

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir held a heated meeting on November 14 on the sidelines of the Vienna conference on Syria, an informed source told ISNA.

According to the source, during the meeting al-Jubeir told Zarif that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad must go as he was not elected by the people. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in return asked if the Saudi King Salman was elected by the people of Saudi Arabia.

The Lebanese Bint Jbeil news agency quoted the conversation as:

- Jubeir: Assad should be dismissed immediately.
- Zarif: Are you the Syrian people to decide for the Syrian ruler?
- Jubeir: Syrian people did not elect Assad, so he must go.
- Lavrov: Excuse me! Who elected King Salman?

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond had said after the meeting, “Nobody walked out, and that in itself is a remarkable achievement. Both for the Iranians and the Saudis it is not easy to have that kind of direct discussion.”

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who was also present in the meeting, said that although the Iranian team had no intention to confront the Saudi diplomat, al-Jubeir at times raised his voice and made aggressive comments, to which Zarif made straightforward responses.

Amir-Abdollahian also said that during the meeting, it was apparent that the Saudi foreign minister did not give much value to the will of the Syrian people to determine their destiny.

He stated that during the meeting Zarif rebuffed al-Jubeir’s “baseless allegations”, and termed as “inappropriate” Saudi Arabia’s measures vis-à-vis Syria and other regional issues.