WORLD / MID-EAST
Iran ‘always welcomes’ dialogue with Saudis
Published: Apr 19, 2021 07:03 PM
An Iranian flag is pictured at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Jan. 8, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

An Iranian flag is pictured at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Jan. 8, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)


Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson said on Monday that Tehran always welcomes dialogue with Saudi Arabia, but he did not confirm nor deny direct talks this month between the arch-rivals.

The two countries severed diplomatic ties in 2016 and have been engaged in several proxy wars in the region as they vie for influence.

A senior Iranian official and two regional sources had said that Saudi and Iranian officials held discussions in Iraq in a bid to ease tensions as Washington works to revive a 2015 nuclear pact with Tehran and end the Yemen war.

"We have seen media reports about talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, although the reports sometimes had contradictory quotes," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told a weekly news conference.

"What is important is that the Islamic ­Republic of Iran has always welcomed dialogue with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and considers it in the interest of the people of the two countries, as well as peace and stability in the region," he added. 

Saudi authorities have not responded to the request for comment on the talks.

One of the sources said the meeting, arranged by Iraq's prime minister who ­visited Saudi Arabia earlier in April, had focused on Yemen, where a military coalition led by Riyadh has been battling the Houthi movement. 

Sunni power Saudi Arabia had opposed the international nuclear accord with Shiite Iran for not tackling Tehran's ­missiles program and regional behavior.
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