Iran-Saudi talks will benefit regional countries: spox

April 26, 2022 - 22:0

TEHRAN- Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has underlined the importance of reducing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, saying that de-escalation between the two countries will benefit the entire region. 

“It is naturally true that the Iran-Saudi Arabia talks are helping to reduce tensions in the region. Iran and Saudi Arabia are two important countries in the Persian Gulf region and have effects beyond their own environment. It is natural that suitable relations between Tehran and Riyadh will benefit the two countries, and the region’s nations as well as the friendly countries,” Khatibzadeh said in remarks to ILNA news agency published on Tuesday. 

He added, “However, there is a principle in the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and that is that we do not include any third country in our bilateral relations. Our relations with Lebanon have been pursued independently of any third factor, and we believe that the Lebanese government and the Lebanese people deserve to have a better present and future, regardless of the secondary factors.”

He added, “I do not confirm that the knot in the Iran-Saudi Arabia dialogue was the issue of Yemen. However, Yemen is one of the most important issues in our region today, and it is natural for Tehran and Riyadh to talk about regional issues. But from the first day, the Islamic Republic of Iran had opposed the issue of making bilateral talks conditional on a third issue. It is unlikely that the Saudi delegation has such an opinion. There are important and diverse issues between the two countries that deserve to be addressed in bilateral talks.”

About the condition of electricity in Lebanon, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said “Iran’s private sector is ready to enter Lebanon and help supply the country with electricity.”

He pointed out that the Iranian public sector is also ready to act nationally and solve the electricity problem in Lebanon forever.

Khatibzadeh added that while “our friends in Lebanon have welcomed the offer” but no practical action has been made in this regard.

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

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

“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 made the remarks on Monday morning during a weekly press briefing.
“The frameworks that had 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,” Khatibzadeh explained. 

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 Iranian delegation in the Baghdad talks 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.”

Saudi Arabia severed its diplomatic ties with Iran in 2016 after angry Iranian protestors stormed its embassy in Tehran in the wake of Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shia cleric. Talks to patch up ties between the two countries resumed in April last year and since then five rounds of talks have been held with the mediation of Iraq. But the talks are yet to produce tangible results. The last round resulted in the two sides deciding to move the talks from the security level to the diplomatic one.