President Barham Salih confirms that Iraq hosted more than one round of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia and that talks were still “ongoing.”
Iraq has hosted more than one round of talks between regional enemies Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iraqi President Barham Salih said.
Salih made the remarks during a live broadcast on Wednesday online with the Beirut Institute think tank. He gave no further details.
Diplomats hope the opening of direct channels between Iran and Saudi Arabia will be a sign of calming tensions across the Middle East after years of hostilities that have brought the region closer to a major conflict. scale.
Baghdad organized talks between officials of his two neighbors and mutual opponents on April 9 in the only round of talks previously reported.
Asked how many rounds of Saudi-Iranian talks Iraq had organized, Salih replied, “More than once.”
For Iraq, hosting the talks is considered a significant step for Baghdad, which has always tried to play the role of regional mediator.
Salih echoed this, saying: “It is ongoing, it is important and it is significant, and for Iraq to be able to play this convening role among these regional actors it is important.”
Salih’s confirmation comes after Saudi and Iranian officials softened their tongues and said yes. prepared for reconciliation.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his country is looking for positive and special relations with Iran, comments that have been well received by the Iranian foreign ministry.
The two countries broke off diplomatic relations in 2016 and are currently facing multiple power conflicts, including in Yemen.
Salih also said he wanted to see a solution to the Iran-US rivalry that has fueled violence in Iraq.
“The Middle East has been doomed to a cycle of conflict and instability over the past few decades … It’s time to move on,” Salih said.
In recent weeks, Washington and Tehran have held indirect talks in Vienna trying to reactivate an international pact reached in 2015 that limited Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for easing sanctions.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and imposed harsh sanctions on Iran and its regional allies, raising tensions as Iran-backed militias attacked U.S. forces in Iraq and a series of attacks hit oil and oil facilities in the Gulf, where Washington counts among its close allies Arab states such as Saudi Arabia.
The assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad in January 2020 brought the region closer to war. Iran responded with limited missile attacks against a U.S. base in Iraq, the first such direct attack, but did not take any action.
Iraqis expect a general regional easing that will allow them to rebuild their country instead of using it as a stage for the resolution of the results of the US, the Arab Gulf and Iran.
Iraq is trying to curb powerful Iran-backed militias and confront a resurgent ISIL group (ISIS) that took over a third of Iraq in 2014 and was beaten militarily in 2017 by the American forces, the Iraqi army, Kurdish fighters and those aligned with Iran. paramilitaries.
“War on ISIS and terrorism cannot be won by (only) military means,” Salih said. “We have managed to liberate our land with the help of our friends, but terrorism remains.”