Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the country is open to direct talks with Saudi Arabia after media reports said the two countries held secret talks in Baghdad.
On April 19, 2021, Saeed KHATIBZADEH, the spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry refused to confirm or deny the reported talks on April 9 in Baghdad. He added that media outlets have used “contradictory quotes” and that the news is fabricated.
Iran “has always welcomed talks with the Saudi kingdom and has deemed it beneficial to the two countries’ people and regional peace and stability, and this thought will continue,” said Saeed KHATIBZADEH.
Iran and Saudi Arabia don’t have diplomatic relations since January 2016 when Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran was stormed after a prominent Shia Muslim leader was executed by Riyadh.
The relations between the two countries deteriorated further after Iran in September 2016 accused Saudi authorities of deliberately causing the death of around 400 Iranian pilgrims in a 2015 stampede in the holy city of Mecca.
In 2021, Mohammad Javad ZARIF the Iranian Foreign Ministry had expressed willingness in rebuilding ties with Riyadh “if the Saudis change their regional policies”.
In February 2021, Iraj MASJEDI the Iranian envoy to Iraq said Tehran was willing to settle its differences with Riyadh, suggesting there were efforts by Iraq to open up dialogue between the two countries.
A source said the meeting, was arranged by Iraq’s PM Mustafa Al-KADHIMI who visited Saudi Arabia in April 2021, had focused on Yemen, where a military coalition led by Riyadh has been battling the Houthi movement backed by Iran.
President Joe Biden’s administration is also pressing for a ceasefire in Yemen which is fighting a large humanitarian crisis.
This article was edited using the data from Aljazeera.com, Reuters.com, Ft.com, Timesofindia.indiatimes.com, and Aa.com.tr