Iran Says Tunisia Not Asked to Mediate between Tehran, Riyadh

Bahram Qassemi

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi has dismissed the media reports that Tehran has asked Tunisia to help resolve differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

In response to questions by Iranian journalists on a report by Kuwait’s Al Jarida, Qassemi rejected the claim and said, “The Islamic Republic has not asked Tunisia to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia.”

Qassemi’s remarks came after a report in the Kuwaiti daily Al Jarida on Wednesday claimed that Mohammad Irani, the Director General for the Middle East and North Africa at the Iranian foreign ministry, was dispatched to Tunisia as a personal emissary for Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif to request his Tunisian counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui to “intervene in the crisis between Tehran and Riyadh and discuss with the Saudis the possibility of behind-the-scenes talks between the two countries to resolve differences.”

“Jhinaoui conveyed the message to Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir on the sidelines of the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo last Sunday,” the daily said, quoting a well-informed source at the Iranian foreign ministry official.

The source was quoted as saying that the Tunisian authorities informed the Iranians that the message had been conveyed to Riyadh and that the Saudis would respond to it next week after studying it.

“Tehran chose Tunis to play this role in light of its good relations with both parties and in order to keep the move out of the limelight. If Iran chose Kuwait or Oman for instance, the move would be exposed and could cause further complications that would undermine the negotiations before they could start,” the source said.

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