Baghdad hosted a fourth round of talks between the two regional archrivals. Iran and Saudi Arabia focused on bilateral issues in the first round of talks in Raisi administration.
Iran and Saudi Arabia sat on negotiation table as the fourth round of talk between the two arch-rivals. Saudi foreign minister confirmed the discussions saying the two sides are seeking ways to resolve bilateral issues.
This is the first round of talks between the two sides under the new administration in Tehran. Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi made significant attempts to mend ties with neighbors against most assessments. The conservative president seems to have had the determination to lessen the regional tensions.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud explained that the official, but behind-the-doors talks occurred 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,” the Saudi FM further noted.
While on a joint news conference with EU foreign policy chief, Prince Faisal avoided to explicate on the place of talks. It’s still unclear on what level, the negotiations were held. Josep Borrell applauded the talks as one of the main ways to contain the regional threats.
On the other side, Iranian officials certified the Saudi side’s remarks, disclosing some more details. A foreign ministry spokesperson said today that Baghdad still hosts the bilateral talks between Tehran and Riyadh. Khatibzadeh described the talks condition as “the best.”
“No pre-conditions have been set by either side for the talks,” Khatibzadeh further notes. He also explained that the talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia put the focus on bilateral issues and interest. Regional issues are on a second level of talks. The Iranian officials also rejected any direct meeting between the two sides in Tehran.
Iran and Saudi Arabia Under Raisi Tenure
Since last April, Iran and Saudi Arabia started negotiations at a high level. the two countries had cut all relations in 2016 following a series of tensions. Tehran and Riyadh still have different ideologies and approaches concerning numerous regional crises.
The talks began under Iran’s previous President who hoped to reach a primary resolution during the last months of his tenure. Hassan Rouhani, nevertheless, found himself replaced by Ebrahim Raisi two months ago. Iraq hosted and somehow brokered the first three rounds.
For multiple years, Saudi Arabia and Iran have supported different parties in the Middle East conflicts and political tensions. Concerning the movements and developments in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, Tehran and Riyadh held opposing policies.
The Saudi-formed coalition to wage aggression against Houthi Movement in Yemen was a further source of escalating tensions. Iran supported and armed Houthis during the recent years against Saudi Arabia.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have expressed optimism that the discussions will help to de-escalate hostilities, but have downplayed the prospect of a substantial diplomatic achievement. Saudi Arabia is attempting the play the ignorant role while the recent development in the region and the changing US policies forced the monarchy to make a staunch shift in policies.
The United Nations has been working for a resolution to the 5-year war. The Houthi movement, however, has called for reopening of Sanaa’s airport before any development regarding the ceasefire. Sanaa airport has been shut since 2016 with Saudi blockade and turned into main accelerator of famine in the country.
With the takeover of power by a conservative president in Tehran, words were circulating regarding Iran’s potential reluctance to keep the talks. Raisi’s active regional diplomacy, however, proved Tehran’s determination to resolve and ease the regional and trans-regional tensions.