Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said on Sunday Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has urged senior Iraqi authorities to arrange a face-to-face meeting between the top diplomats of Riyadh and Tehran, amid a diplomatic process between the two neighbors aimed at mending strained ties.
Hussein noted that his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud will visit Baghdad for talks with Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amirabdollahian.
The Iraqi minister noted that Saudi and Iranian delegates have already held five rounds of security-level meetings in Baghdad.
The confidential negotiations will be publicized through Iraq’s mediation, and Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers will meet in public, the top diplomat explained.
Bin Farhan had said on the sidelines of the Davos 2023 Conference that Riyadh is trying to find a way to talk with Iran, because dialogue is the best way to decreased disputes.
“We try to find a way to talk with everyone, and focus on expansion of relations free from disputes,” he added.
The Saudi foreign minister stated that Riyadh has relations with Washington, although the two countries also sometimes have differences of opinion on certain points.
In Manama Security Conference, Hussein noted that Baghdad’s mediation efforts in the course of Iran-Saudi negotiations continues, as both countries are interested in continuing their talks.
Amirabdollahian, too, in a press conference on the sidelines of his visit of Lebanon said that five rounds of bilateral talks with Saudi Arbia have been held so far and Tehran and Riyadh both agreed on the need to continue talks.
He had expressed hope that the consular offices of the two countries in Jeddah and Mashhad will be opened as a first move, so that the Iranian pilgrims of Mecca and Medina and Holy Mashhad will receive services more easily.
Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr by the Saudi government, stormed its embassy in Tehran.
The kingdom then pursued a confrontational foreign policy toward the Islamic Republic, especially during the administration of former US President Donald Trump, with whom the Saudi rulers had close ties.
Saudi Arabia appears to have recently changed its antagonistic course, showing willingness through diplomatic channels and third parties to mend fences with Tehran and resume bilateral relations.
The two neighbors remain deeply divided over a set of regional issues, mainly the destructive and protracted Saudi war on Yemen.