Iran not seeking tension with Saudi Arabia: Zarif

January 7, 2016 - 0:0

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday that in contrast to Saudi Arabia the Islamic Republic does not seek to create tension in the Middle East.

The foreign minister said since Hassan Rouhani took office as president in the summer of 2013 Iran has been seeking to foster friendship and brotherhood in the region which is facing threats of terrorism and extremism, but Saudi Arabia has acted quite differently.

“Over the past 2.5 years we were working for understanding and brotherhood yet unfortunately Saudi Arabia acted opposite to this path,” the minister lamented.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran does not seek tension in the region,” Zarif said in a joint press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari in Tehran.

--Attack on Saudi diplomatic missions ‘unacceptable’

He also said attacks on the Saudi Arabian diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad on Saturday was “unacceptable”, a move which he said has been condemned by all Iranian officials.

The Iranian government considers itself legally and religiously duty bound to protect diplomatic buildings, he added.

Saudi Arabia late on Sunday hastily announced the severance of diplomatic ties with Iran under the pretext of an attack on its embassy in Tehran late on Saturday by dozens of protestors, who had been enraged by the execution of pro-democracy Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr.

Bahrain and Sudan followed Saudi Arabia by cutting ties with Iran.

Zarif said, “We should not form coalition against each other.”

Not only are these coalitions “not serious” but also they cannot “stand up to” Iran, he added.

“We believe that causing tension… is not a sign of power, rather it is a sign of weakness,” the minister noted, adding that Iran shows restraint toward such issues.

Citing examples of Saudi Arabia’s hostile moves against Iran the foreign minister said Saudi Arabia along with Israel unsuccessfully sought to kill the nuclear talks between Iran and great powers. Also Saudi Arabia has been pumping extra oil to the market with the aim of bringing down prices in order to punish Iran.

---We seek ‘constructive’ ties with Arab world

Zarif reiterated the Islamic Republic’s policy of seeking friendly ties with Arab states, saying Tehran seeks to have “positive” and “constructive” relations with the Arab world.

---Execution of Sheikh Nimr was unjustifiable

The chief diplomat said called the execution Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr by the Saudi government “unjustifiable”, noting that Nimr was a cleric who pushed for peace and was against terrorism and extremism to the extent that his execution has been condemned by the world.

Elsewhere, he said that Iran and Iraq hold good relations and make efforts in countering terrorism.

Iran supports Iraq’s territorial integrity and helps the Iraqi government counter any foreign interference, he added.

The Iranian foreign minister also said that his phone conversations with Secretary of State John Kerry during the last days were about implementation of the July 14 nuclear deal.

---Iraq FM says good ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia will benefit the region

The Iraqi foreign minister, for his part, said that good relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia will benefit the two countries and the entire region.

Jaafari said that Iraq has always made efforts to help establish regional peace and security and has held consultations with some Arab countries after the recent tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia.