Friday, August 19, 2022

Iraq says to keep pushing for Iran-Saudi rapprochement

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, whose country has hosted several rounds of talks between Iran and Saudi Araba, has said Bagdad will push for a rapprochement between Tehran and Riyadh in line with efforts to ease regional tensions.

Kadhimi told The Associated Press that Baghdad would keep up its role in hosting talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, adding that it is in his country’s interest to keep pushing for a rapprochement between Tehran and Riyadh.

“Iraq contributed to the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, and several sessions held were successful and fruitful, and a great rapprochement took place,” the Iraqi premier said.

He emphasized that Iraq would continue to encourage dialogue between the two sides.

“We have seen positive reactions to the role played by Iraq by the Iranian and Saudi sides and also at the level of regional and international leaders,” Kadhimi pointed out.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, stormed its embassy in Tehran.

Riyadh did not change its confrontational foreign policy towards Tehran until 2021 when it apparently changed its tack, showing new inclination to fix bilateral ties.

Iraq undertook the role of hosting talks between the two powerful regional states. Baghdad has so far hosted five rounds of talks between Saudi and Iranian officials.

Speaking at a press conference in the Iraqi capital last month, Kadhimi said talks in Baghdad between representatives from Iran and Saudi Arabia as part of a diplomatic process aimed at mending relations have made “remarkable progress” and entered advanced stages.

Kadhimi added his country has played an important role in bringing the views of the regional countries closer by hosting talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Iran and Saudi Arabia remain deeply divided over a set of regional issues, mainly the destructive Riyadh war on Yemen.

Back in March, the Iranian foreign minister stated although Riyadh chose to cut ties with Tehran, the Islamic Republic has constantly invited Saudi Arabia to good neighborly interactions over the past years.

“We have different views and approaches on some issues in the region, but the management of those differences by the two sides can serve the interests of the two nations, as well as friendly and brotherly countries,” Hossein Amirabdollahian told IRNA.

He made the remarks after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, said in an interview with The Atlantic published on March 3, that “Iran is a neighbor forever. We cannot get rid of them and they cannot get rid of us. So it’s better for both of us to work it out and to look for ways in which we can coexist.”

Also in his interview, bin Salman had noted the kingdom intends to continue “detailed talks” with Iran to reach a satisfactory agreement for both.

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