Iraqi FM calls Iran-Saudi talks satisfactory

July 31, 2021 - 21:45

TEHRAN — In an interview with the Saudi Al-Arabiya news network published on Saturday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein said that President Barham Salih will soon travel to Iran.

Asked if Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is due to travel to Tehran after Ebrahim Raisi officially takes office, the Iraqi foreign minister said the visit to Tehran has not been planned yet. 

“The Iranian side has invited our prime minister to visit Tehran, and he will leave Baghdad after Ebrahim Raisi comes to power. But in the next few days, Iraqi President Barham Saleh will travel to Tehran as the head of a delegation that I am accompanying. We will have discussions and consultations with the Iranian side,” he noted. 

He said that the two sides would hold consultations on various issues.

The new situation in Iran entails fresh talks, the chief Iraqi diplomat commented.

Hussein said they would consult with the Iranian side on Tehran-Baghdad relations and Iran-U.S. relations, as these relations could have both positive and negative effects on the political situation in Iraq. 

On Tehran-Washington relations, Hussein stressed that this issue directly affects Iraq.

“Iraq is satisfied with Tehran-Riyadh talks”

Regarding Baghdad’s efforts in hosting talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Hussein said, “Naturally, I should not speak on behalf of Iran and Saudi Arabia, but according to my information, the third round of Iran-Saudi talks is over, and these talks are satisfactory. The important thing is that the two sides began to consult on issues related to bilateral relations, and Iraq played an essential role in this regard.”

With President-elect Raisi preparing to take the helm in less than a week, relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are poised to be fully restored.

Ayatollah Raisi has made it clear that he wants better relations with Iran’s neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, whose ties with Iran were severed in 2016 in the wake of the storming of its diplomatic missions. 

“As for Saudi Arabia, I say that there is no obstacle to having a dialogue with Saudi Arabia and relations with all countries. We are ready to reopen embassies,” the president-elect said in his first presser after he won the June 18 presidential election. 

The remarks came in the midst of Iran-Saudi security talks in Baghdad, which was confirmed by both sides. Security and intelligence officials from both sides sat at the negotiating table in the Iraqi capital to address each other’s concerns. The Yemen war was discussed in detail, while other thorny points of contention, such as Lebanon and Iraq, were also touched on. 

The talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia began in Baghdad in April. Since then, several rounds have been held, and lately, there have been unofficial reports that the venue of negotiations has been moved to Oman. Over the past few weeks, no updates have been given on the latest status of the talks, but Iran hinted at their continuation.

The Raisi team showed its support for improving ties with Riyadh by inviting Saudi officials to the inauguration ceremony, which will be held on August 5. Iranian media outlets reported that Saudi Arabia is likely to dispatch a representative to Iran to attend the inauguration. “Due to the resolution of all bilateral disputes, it is possible to announce the improvement of relations between Tehran and Riyadh and the reopening of embassies at any time,” an informed source was quoted by the Etemad Online as saying. The source said the Iran-Saudi talks are ongoing in Arab capitals, and the remaining issues do not pertain to bilateral issues. 

Instead, the unresolved issues have something to do with Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq. “The two sides are negotiating a symbolic move at the inauguration ceremony, after which relations will begin,” the source said. 

Raisi himself made sure to signal his openness to improving relations with the region’s countries after winning the presidential election. He spoke on the phone with a number of regional leaders. Most recently, he held a telephone conversation with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman, who recently paid a vociferous visit to Saudi Arabia.

“Engagement, dialogue, consultation, and brainstorming with neighbors about the important issues of the region are a priority of the thirteenth government,” Raisi told the sultan in their phone conversation. 

After years of bitter diplomatic tensions, Iran and Saudi Arabia are inching slowly toward a full resumption of diplomatic ties. Iran is ready to do it in a matter of hours, but is Saudi Arabia prepared to do the same?
 

SA/PA

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