Saudi Arabia to promote talks with Iran to diplomatic level

June 27, 2022 - 22:16

TEHRAN — According to the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi who visited Tehran on Sunday, brought an important message from the Saudi officials.

The message, Saeed Khatibzadeh announced, included the Saudi Kingdom’s readiness to upgrade the level of negotiations with Iran from security level to the diplomatic level. 

Al-Kadhimi came to Iran from Jeddah, where he had a cordial meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman. 

Bin Salman and al-Kadhimi addressed “bilateral relations and opportunities for joint cooperation”, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

“They exchanged points of view on a number of issues that would contribute to supporting and strengthening regional security and stability,” it added.

Over the past year, Iraq has hosted five rounds of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two regional rivals, with the last session held in April.

Saeed Shirvani, Deputy Secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, has so far been the chief negotiator with the Saudis, marking the assumption that the talks are being held at a security level. The assumption is partially true, particularly about the Saudi delegation, since they are all high-ranking officials of the Saudi intelligence service, an informed source familiar with the matter told the Tehran Times. 

However, the source added, the Iranian delegation consists of security, political, and diplomatic officials from various government bodies. 

In April, al-Kadhimi said he believed that “understanding is near” between Riyadh and Tehran, a supplementary echo of shifting political orientations across the region.

However, since April, Iranian officials have repeatedly stated that they are awaiting the Saudis’ response in writing, and nothing “major” have happened. 

Nonetheless, a breakthrough has occurred in Tehran-Riyadh talks, as announced by the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh. 

Speaking at his last press briefing as the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Khatibzadeh said, “Al-Kadhimi's visit to Tehran was pre-planned and was defined in the context of bilateral issues and regional developments, including the positive and constructive role that Baghdad has played in Iran-Saudi Arabia talks in recent months.”

The spokesman noted that during the trip, the Iraqi Premier and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian discussed economic issues and projects that have been suspended or are underway. There was also a discussion about public relations and travel, he added. 

Khatibzadeh called the relations between Iran and Iraq “multi-layered and strategic”, noting, “These issues are always followed up, following the visit of the Iraqi Foreign Minister to Iran some time ago.”

He then noted that another dimension of the trip was the role that Iraq has been playing in the Iran-Saudi dialogue. 

“Five rounds of talks have taken place in Baghdad and we appreciate the role of Iraq. Al-Kadhimi conveyed messages to us from Saudi Arabia. Based on what we have heard, the Saudi side is ready to upgrade the talks to the diplomatic level, and these talks will continue in Baghdad,” the spokesman noted. 

Khatibzadeh added that the date of the next Iran-Saudi talks will be announced soon. 

“This dialogue will move forward at the diplomatic level. It was also agreed that arrangements would be made for expert delegations to visit the embassies, all of which would be pursued in the coming days,” the spokesman noted. 

Tight knots were made in Iran’s diplomatic relations with the world since Amir Abdollahian took office 11 months ago, yet, the foreign minister has been able to break the deadlock through strategic patience and active diplomacy. 

Iran and the United States have agreed to resume negotiations in Doha through the European Union’s mediation on Tuesday, according to unofficial reports. In line with this announcement, al-Kadhimi also brought a message from bin Salman, stating his readiness to speed up the talks. These deadlocks will soon be broken. It is just a matter of time, but so far, strategic patience and active diplomacy have paid off. 


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