Iran hails latest round of talks with Saudi Arabia as ‘positive’

April 25, 2022 - 17:47

TEHRAN – In its first official position on the fifth round of Tehran-Riyadh talks, Iran has hailed the talks as “positive” and “forward-moving.”

Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, made the remarks on Monday morning during a weekly press briefing. 

“The fifth round of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Baghdad was held last Thursday with the efforts of the Iraqi government and the preparations and assistance of the Omani government, and the talks were forward-moving and positive,” Khatibzadeh said.

He added, “The frameworks that have been pre-planned were thoroughly discussed in these talks. And the talks were serious. If they are upgraded to the political level a bit, we can rapidly witness serious progress in various fields within the framework of the negotiations.”

The spokesman also raised the possibility of a meeting between the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia. But he said, “We are not there yet.”

The fifth round of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia was held on April 21 in Baghdad with the presence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. The talks had been put on hold since September last year. 

The Iranian delegation was led by Saeed Irvani, an assistant to the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council for international affairs. And the Saudi delegation was headed by Khalid al-Humaidan, the director general of the General Intelligence Directorate.

The Arabic service of Russia Today quoted an Iraqi source as saying that al-Kadhimi attended the meeting between the Saudi and Iranian security delegations in Baghdad.

The source added that “the two sides agreed to end the security negotiations, and they will move to diplomatic negotiations.”

The source pointed out that “it is expected that the sixth meeting will be held on Iraqi soil.”

The source continued, “The meeting was positive, and they agreed on a set of points of de-escalation between Riyadh and Tehran.”

The source indicated that “the meeting lasted for several hours, and the Iranian delegation paid a visit to religious places while the Saudi delegation left Baghdad late.”

Khatibzadeh said the meeting focused on bilateral and regional issues. 

“We discussed bilateral and regional issues with the Saudi delegation,” he said. 

In a tweet posted on Saturday, Nour news, a media outlet close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) said, “The fifth round of talks between the high representatives of #Iran and #SaudiArabia was held in Baghdad. The positive atmosphere of the recent meeting has raised hopes for the two countries to take a step towards resumption of relations.”

It continued, “It is expected that a joint meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries will be held in the near future.”

Nour News also released a photo showing al-Kadhimi is flanked by Irvani and al-Humaidan. 

During a recent visit to Tehran, in response to a question about the fifth round of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein stressed, “These talks have continued and have been suspended for a while. We hope that the next round of these talks will be held between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It is clear that the talks so far have been within the framework of the security offices of the two sides, and from the Iranian side there have been representatives from the foreign ministry, but the framework of the talks has been determined by the security offices. There are some issues that need to be addressed. I hope the next meeting will be held soon.”

Hussein said that there has been speculation about the time of the meeting, but he cannot explicitly talk about the time of the next meeting, “but the parties are willing to continue their meetings.” 

In this regard, Qasim al-Araji, Iraq's national security adviser, had expressed hope that the fifth round of the Iran-Saudi talks in Baghdad would lead to the reopening of the Iranian-Saudi embassies.

Iraqi President Barham Salih first announced in May 2021 that Iraq had announced talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and that four rounds of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia had been hosted by Baghdad.

Saudi Arabia severed its diplomatic ties with Iran in 2016. Since then, tensions prevailed over relations between the two countries.