Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Russia says ready to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia

Moscow is ready to act as a mediator between Tehran and Riyadh, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov says. He added a possible rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran would be a positive move for the region’s development and will help settle regional conflicts.

“We have repeatedly offered our partners in Riyadh and Tehran our mediation, and Moscow as a meeting place, both officially unofficially. And in this regard, our proposal remains on the table,” Bogdanov told the Valdai Discussion Club on Monday.

A possible rapprochement of Saudi Arabia’s and Iran’s positions would be a positive move for the region’s development and will help settle a number of conflicts, including the situation in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, Bogdanov said.

“We think that if such major players as Saudi Arabia and Iran manage to bring their positions closer on the settlement of a range of disputed matters not only in their bilateral relations but also on the regional level – I would mention Syria, Lebanon, Yemen in this respect, it would be a very positive direction for general development,” he added.

According to Bogdanov, the Russian side has repeatedly offered its mediation to the partners in Tehran and Riyadh, saying that Moscow could host meetings for them.

“Naturally, our proposal stays on the table, but we express satisfaction that contacts have kicked off in Baghdad,” he continued, adding, “As far as I understand, four meetings have been held in Bagdad at the level security services officials.”

“There is a common enemy, a global challenge of international terrorism. I think that all our partners – the Arabs, the Iranians, and the Israelis as well – are generally interested in the maximally effective efforts against international terrorism. And it will require collective approaches and agreements,” the Russian senior diplomat stressed.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has recently said rapprochement with Iran is possible as the kingdom is planning to schedule a fifth round of direct talks with the Islamic Republic.

“The kingdom is interested in a positive relationship with Iran including a relationship that delivers benefits for both of us. So we are not just interested in some political détente, but we are interested in a relationship,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud noted at the 58th Munich Security Conference (MSC).

He stated Riyadh is looking to schedule a fifth round of direct talks with Iran, adding, that the restoration of Tehran-Riyadh relations requires progress on the issues that “concern Saudi Arabia and its neighbors.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdolahian has recently said Tehran is ready to continue talks with Saudi Arabira, “however this depends above all on Riyadh’s will”.

Earlier this month, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Iran was ready for more talks with Saudi Arabia if Riyadh is willing to hold the talks in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect.

“Iran is ready to continue these negotiations until reaching an outcome, provided that the Saudis are willing to continue the negotiations in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect,” Raisi added.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran in early 2016, after Iranian protesters, angered by the kingdom’s execution of top Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, attacked Riyadh’s missions in the country.

Riyadh has since stepped up its belligerent foreign policy toward the Islamic Republic, but the kingdom appears to be ready to change course.

Riyadh and Tehran have announced they hope the talks can ease tensions while playing down expectations of a significant diplomatic breakthrough.

The talks have led to “serious progress” regarding Persian Gulf security, Tehran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh stated in September.

In a sign of a thaw in relations, Iran announced last month that three Iranian diplomats arrived in Saudi Arabia to take up posts at the headquarters of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jeddah.

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