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Iran Press TV

Iran temporarily suspends talks with Saudi Arabia over rapprochement: Report

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 13 March 2022 7:10 AM

Iran has reportedly suspended a fifth round of talks with Saudi Arabia, which was slated to be held in Iraq next week as part of a diplomatic process aimed at mending troubled ties between the two Persian Gulf neighbors.

Nournews, which is affiliated to Iran's Supreme National Security Council, reported on Sunday that the Iranian side had "unilaterally and temporarily" suspended the talks.

The development comes as Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein revealed during remarks at a diplomatic forum in Antalya on Turkey's southern coast that Baghdad was going to host another round of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

The report did not provide any reason for the suspension or a specific date for a new round of talks.

The two Middle East heavyweights have held four rounds of talks in Iraq since last April, including a meeting in December under the administration of President Ebrahim Raeisi, who assumed office in mid-2021.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, stormed its embassy in Tehran.

In the years that ensued, the kingdom pursued a confrontational foreign policy toward the Islamic Republic, but it appears that it has recently changed tack.

The two neighbors remain deeply divided over a set of regional issues, mainly the destructive Saudi-led war on Yemen.

Both Tehran and Riyadh have hinted that some progress has been made in their recent rounds of negotiations.

Last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran welcomes Saudi Arabia's "new inclination" to fix bilateral relations, stating that rapprochement between the two sides will benefit both nations as well as other friendly states.

"We have different views and approaches on some issues in the region, but the management of those differences by the two sides can serve the interests of the two nations, as well as friendly and brotherly countries," he said.

Amir-Abdollahian was reacting to comments by Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman, who told US monthly magazine The Atlantic earlier this month that the Islamic Republic of Iran was the kingdom's neighbor so the two countries should find a way to coexist.

"We have had discussions, and we have heard many statements from Iranian leaders that are very welcome in Saudi Arabia," he said. "I hope we can reach a position that is good for both countries, and a bright future for Saudi Arabia and Iran."

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