Saudi Arabia says talks with Iran at ‘exploratory phase’

Saudi Arabia has confirmed it has been holding talks with the new Iranian government to reduce tensions between the two Persian Gulf rivals. The Kingdom has announced Riyadh-Tehran dialogues are still at an “exploratory phase”.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said on Sunday “the fourth round of talks took place on September 21”.

“These discussions are still in the exploratory phase, and we hope that they lay the foundation to address issues between the two sides,” he added in Riyadh during a joint news conference with the European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell.

Prince Faisal did not disclose the location of the meeting or the level of representation, while Borrell welcomed the talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Iran and Saudi Arabia, on opposing sides in multiple Middle East conflicts, have been engaged in talks since April at the highest level since cutting ties in 2016.

The discussions were launched under Iran’s former President Hassan Rouhani, who was replaced in August by Ebrahim Raisi. The first three rounds of Saudi-Iranian talks were held in Iraq.

The talks have led to “serious progress” regarding Gulf security, Tehran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh stated in September.

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

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