Iran expresses readiness to restore ties with Saudi Arabia

January 4, 2021 - 22:14

TEHRAN – Two Iranian diplomats have said that Tehran is ready to restore diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia if Riyadh changes behavior.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, has called on Saudi Arabia to change its behavior so that Iran rebuild its ties with it. The spokesman said if the Saudis change their regional policies the region would see better days.

Speaking at a weekly press conference on Monday, Khatibzadeh noted, “What happened in Yemen is really bitter. Besieging a nation and imposing a famine on it is really a historic catastrophe. Yemen is Saudi Arabia’s immediate neighbor. And what happened to Qatar was not a good thing. The sooner each of these is resolved, the better for the region. The day when Saudi Arabia concludes that it can speak directly to us and the region and embrace the region and stop buying a security from outside the region, there will be better days for the region.”

The spokesman pointed out that it is possible for Tehran to re-establish diplomatic ties with Riyadh because Saudi Arabia is an important country in the region.

“Saudi Arabia is an important country, and it is possible to rebuild relations with it if the rulers of the House of Saud change tack,” Khatibzadeh remarked.

Iran’s ambassador to Kuwait Mohammad Irani also expressed his country’s readiness to rebuild ties with Saudi Arabia in an interview with the Kuwaiti daily newspaper Alrai.

“The Islamic Republic, as the largest neighbor of the countries bordering the [Persian] Gulf, seeks to have the best relations with its neighbors on the southern bank. It believes that its interests and benefits, and the interests of the countries of the region can be achieved through good neighborliness and peaceful coexistence, and it stresses the strengthening of security and stability throughout the region. Evidence of this is the Hormuz Initiative project presented by His Excellency the Iranian President Dr. Hassan Rouhani in 2018 and was welcomed by most countries in the region and beyond,” the Iranian ambassador told the Kuwaiti newspaper.

There have been no diplomatic ties between Tehran and Riyadh since early 2016 when Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran after a group of angry protesters stormed its embassy in Tehran due to Saudi Arabia’s execution of the prominent Shia dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Irani said his country did not believe in cutting diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia right from the start.

“Concerning relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from the beginning, we did not believe in severing relations with it, as we consider it an important and large country in the region. We believe that within the framework of cooperation, most bilateral problems can be solved and most regional crises overcome,” the Iranian ambassador stated.

He also said that Iran is ready to enter any kind of talks with the Saudis unconditionally.

“We have expressed many times our readiness to start discussions anywhere, anytime, and under any heading, directly or indirectly. We informed our brothers of this and said that we are ready to discuss any accusations and discuss all controversial issues on the negotiating table,” Irani continued.

Earlier in December, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had called on the Saudis to pursue talks with Iran rather than asking the West for a seat at the table of nuclear talks with Iran.

“It seems that some neighbors are asking the West to be part of the negotiation process with Iran! We do not negotiate with Westerners over the region. Their interventions are the basis of the problems. We are always ready for dialogue with our neighbors, and we have translated it into proposing regional security projects in 1986, the Regional Dialogue Forum in 2016, and the Hormuz Peace Initiative in 2019,” the chief Iranian diplomat tweeted in Arabic on December 2020.

On the same day, Zarif called for direct talks between Iran and its neighbors.

“Dear neighbors, Why ask US/E3 for inclusion in talks with Iran when: a) There won't be ANY talks about OUR region with them as they're the problem themselves b) We can speak directly about our region without outside meddling. Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) is still on the table,” Zarif tweeted.

Zarif’s tweets came after the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, called for a new nuclear agreement with Iran instead of the existing one, which is called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The Saudi foreign minister told CNBC in late November that President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran has set the groundwork for a new agreement with Iran and that Saudi Arabia should be a part of any potential negotiations between the incoming U.S. administration and Iran on a new nuclear deal. The chief Saudi diplomat said Saudi Arabia seeks to partner with the U.S. administration on a potential new agreement, which would not only limit Iran’s nuclear activities but also seek to address what he called its “regional malign activity.”

Such an accord could be labeled the “JCPOA++,” bin Farhan added.

The Saudi foreign minister believes such an agreement could go even further, claiming that a “JCPOA++” deal could also seek to address Iran’s alleged “arming of militias, whether it’s the Houthis in Yemen, or certain groups in Iraq or Syria, or Lebanon, and even beyond.”

“And, of course, its ballistic missile programs and other arms programs, which (it) continues to use to spread havoc around the region,” bin Farhan noted.

Iran has rejected the Saudi demand, saying bin Farhan’s remarks indicate the weakness of Washington, Tel Aviv, and Riyadh.

“These remarks indicate three things: First, the United States, the Zionist regime, and Saudi Arabia are alone, and none of them see themselves as capable enough to confront the Islamic Republic of Iran. They need the help of others. Second, the remarks of the Saudi foreign minister show the hostile ties of Saudi Arabia with the Zionist regime and the United States. [Third], neither the U.S., nor Israel, or Saudi Arabia has the right to interfere in Iran’s decisions, and Iran is free to negotiate with any country it wants,” Mojtaba Zolnouri, the head of the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said in November.

SM/PA

Leave a Comment

6 + 0 =