Iran-Saudi talks continues in the coming weeks following a halt due to change of power in Iran. A rare meeting between foreign ministers of the two sides in Baghdad raised hopes about settlement of challenging issues.
Iran intends to undertake another round of negotiations with arch-regional opponent in Iraq. Iran-Saudi talks will begin when the establishment of new administration in Tehran finishes, Iranian ambassador to Baghdad said. The two countries have held three rounds of negotiations to settle the bilateral disputes.
At the same time, Iran’s new foreign minister confirmed talks with his Saudi counterpart during the Baghdad summit. In an interview with local television, Amirabdollahian assessed the talks with Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud as positive welcoming the new round of talks between the two sides.
Amirabdollahian also referred to the expectation of the Saudis for the resumption of Iran-Saudi talks. “The Saudi counterpart said we’re waiting for the new government in Iran to be situated and we will resume our communications,” he asserted.
It was first last April when Baghdad brokered secret negotiations between the Tehran and Riyadh. Iran-Saudi talks, however, stopped temporarily due to a change of administrative power in Iran. Raisi’s cabinet received a resounding confirmation vote in local parliament last week.
“Iran has expressed its readiness for dialogue and peace and has extended its hand of help and assistance toward neighbors and countries in the region,” Iran envoy to Baghdad said regarding the continuation of the talks with Saudi Arabia.
Baghdad summit focused on building support for Iraq but also served as a symbol of wider attempts to de-escalate hostilities in the region. High-rank officials from Iran and Saudi Arabia have not attended an event since 2016.
Experts believe that an inclusive agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia is possible considering the recent regional developments.
Iran-Saudi Talks; Fresh Prospects Despite Concerns
Iran and Saudi Arabia have severed bilateral ties since 2016 following a series of diplomatic challenges. The disputes culminated after the execution of a prominent Shia preacher in Saudi Arabia followed by a public rushing the Saudi embassy in Tehran in response.
The Conflict intensified after Riyadh voiced support for former US President’s “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran. The kingdom also played an encouraging role in US abrupt departure from the JCPOA, the world powers’ nuclear accord with Tehran.
Since then, the two countries were involved with a series of face-off at different fronts. Iran was blamed by Washington and Riyadh in 2019 for an air strike on the kingdom’s largest oil infrastructure. The Attack briefly shut down 50% of the country’s crude oil production.
On the other side, Tehran accused Riyadh of intelligence cooperation with Israel leading to sabotage operations on Iranian nuclear facilities. Humanitarian issues is also another sphere of difference between the two sides.
April Iran-Saudi talks were a light at the end of a tunnel that threatened the region with deadly hostilities. Riyadh’s policy shift regarding Iran occurred following Trump’s defeat in US election and takeover of power by Democrats. Biden’s policies on Iran, nuclear accord, and Yemen war forced Riyadh into a Change of approach.
Prospects of new round of Iran-Saudi talks occurs while takeover of power by conservatives in Iran put it in haze. Western media covered the issue with pessimism arguing that President Raisi is a hardliner against the talks.
Amirabdollahian talks with his Saudi counterpart occurred few days after taking confidence vote from Parliament. The move seems to be a signal by Iran regarding the country’s will to proceed with diplomatic resolutions for challenges. Nuclear negotiations with western power may be subject to a similar approach.