Iran confirms talks with Saudi Arabia and says its foreign minister may soon address the UAE.
Tehran, Iran – Iran’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed for the first time that talks have been held with Saudi Arabia’s regional rival in an effort to reduce tensions between the two countries and across the region.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a virtual press conference on Monday that Iran has always received negotiations with its regional partners and that policy has not changed.
“But we look forward to seeing the results of these conversations and judging based on the results,” he said.
This comes days after an official from the Saudi Foreign Ministry confirmed the talks, and also said it was premature to discuss definitive conclusions.
Neither side has released details of the talks, but reports say that in addition to bilateral ties, Tehran and Riyadh talk about the evolution of Yemen and Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. which Saudi Arabia has opposed.
A Saudi-led military coalition has been fighting Yemeni Houthis for the past six years, causing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The Houthis, who Saudi Arabia says are armed with Iran, have recently intensified their attacks on Saudi soil.
Meanwhile, multilateral talks in Vienna to restore the Iranian nuclear deal – which the United States abandoned in 2018 – are now in their fourth round and delegates are working against the clock as a maximum of three months for a temporary agreement between Iran and the global nuclear watchdog are approaching on May 21 and the country will hold presidential elections in June.
The potential for rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia comes as the U.S. reduces its presence in the troubled region and has ended its support for the Yemen war.
Last month, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he wanted to have good relations with Shiite Iran even though his Sunni Muslim kingdom still faces problems with Tehran’s “negative behavior.”
Tensions between Riyadh and Tehran have developed in the region in recent years, as they have supported opposing sides in Lebanon and Syria. Iran supported Qatar when other Arab nations imposed a blockade on it that was only lifted in January.
The possible thaw in relations is in the midst of a wave of engagement in the region.
Iran may be on the verge of improving ties with other Arab states, as reports indicate that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif could soon visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Khatibzadeh, of the foreign ministry, confirmed on Monday that a visit by Zarif to the UAE “has been on the agenda” and will take place when conditions are right.
Last month, Zarif toured four countries in the region that took him to Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman.