Saudi FM says ‘enough progress’ made in talks with Iran

November 13, 2021 - 21:22

TEHRAN – The top diplomat of Saudi Arabia has said that enough progress was made during several rounds of talks with Iran that allows the two regional heavyweights to proceed with the negotiations, though they are yet to reach a concrete result.

In an interview with the English service of France 24, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said talks with Iran would continue and that an additional round of negotiations between the regional rivals was expected soon. 

He pointed out that the four previous rounds of talks were merely “exploratory” rather than substantial, but said both sides were committed to engagement.

“The talks so far have been exploratory in nature. They have been casual but not substantive. We are committed to a substantive discussion with Iran on addressing the concerns that we and other countries in the region have, that would allow us to come to a normal relationship with our neighbors Iran,” bin Farhan said.

 He added, “We think that an alignment of interest is possible. But that would require to address the concerns that we all have. So far, we have not reached any substantive conclusion at these talks. But we have made enough progress that would allow us to move forward.”

Responding to a question on whether there would be another round of talks soon, the foreign minister said, “We hope so. It had not been scheduled yet but we are open to it.”

Bin Farhan also said that it has not been discussed yet where to hold the next round of talks.

He responded to a question on whether the reopening of diplomatic missions in Iran and Saudi Arabia has been on the table. “Certainly, we’re willing to consider all issues and proposals if they are serious and if they are tied to substantive progress,” the foreign minister said, adding that the reopening of diplomatic missions “could happen.” But he also said that no determination has been made in this regard. 

After years of rivalry and lack of diplomatic relations, Saudi Arabia and Iran are slowly moving toward mending ties thanks to at least four rounds of behind-closed-doors talks mediated and hosted by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustaf al-Kadhimi.

Tehran and Riyadh have been involved in security-oriented talks in Baghdad ever since April when Tehran also resumed talks with major world powers over reviving a 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). So far, at least four rounds of talks have been held. 

But the next round of talks is yet to be scheduled according to press reports. Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, a newspaper close to Qatar, has reported that the two sides were expected to hold a meeting in Baghdad on November 2. But the meeting was postponed until an unspecified date. The postponement of the new round of talks took place before the assassination attempt on Al-Kadhimi, the newspaper said. 

In late October, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that Iran and Saudi Arabia have made initial agreements on certain issues but “we are waiting for their finalization.”