Home Middle East Saudi Arabia Plans to Restart Talks with Iran

Saudi Arabia Plans to Restart Talks with Iran

The Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister has made a statement that the kingdom is planning to restart talks with Iran. Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said that the Kingdom will proceed with the fifth round of talks though previous rounds did not bear any substantial results. The minister made these statements at the Munich Security Conference. 

Riyadh had snapped ties with Iran in 2016 following an attack by protestors in its embassy in Tehran. The protestors were protesting against the execution of a Shia leader in Saudi Arabia. Last year, the two powerful countries resumed talks, hosted by Iraq. 

The Saudi minister said that if the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was revived, it should be treated as “a starting point and not an endpoint,” to address regional issues. The Saudi government has always opposed the missile deal. 

The minister added, “That will indeed require from our neighbours in Iran a serious desire to address the underlying issues that exist … We hope that there is a serious desire to find a new modus operandi.” 

“If we see substantive progress on those files, then yes, the rapprochement is possible. So far, we have not seen that” the foreign minister told the Conference.

Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are locked in serious conflicts in the region, including Yemen. Since 2015, Saudi-led forces are fighting a battle against the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen. 

In 2019, the tension between the two powers escalated following attacks on Saudi oil plants. While the kingdom accused Tehran, Tehran denied any role in such attacks. 

The minister also accused Tehran of arming the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which again Iran and the rebels deny. Prince Faisal said that Iran supplies ballistic as well as conventional weapons to Houthis. 

Referring to the UN-led efforts at a ceasefire in Yemen, the Saudi minister added, “This does not contribute to finding a path to settle that conflict, but we are committed and we are supportive of the United Nations representative.”

Years of conflict in Yemen have killed thousands and displaced millions. It is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. 

Baghdad-brokered talks have completed four rounds. While Saudi Arabia has described such talks as cordial and exploratory, Tehran describes them as they have had gone “good distance.”

Early in February, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had expressed interest to resume talks.