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Saudi and Iranian officials conduct talks to forge relations

Saudi and Iranian officials conduct talks to forge relations

Saudi and Iranian high-ranking officials have had direct talks aimed at resolving relations between the two rivals in the region, five years after the suspension of diplomatic relations, the three officials said in discussions.

The negotiations in Baghdad this month are believed to be the first significant political debates between the two nations since 2016 and will come as Joe Biden wants. revive the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in 2015 and regional tensions escalated.

Saudi Arabia is keen to end its war in Yemen against Houthi rebels aligned with Iran, who have stepped up attacks on Saudi cities and oil infrastructure. The Houthis have launched dozens of missiles and drones full of explosives in the kingdom this year.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has also taken steps that seem to benefit the Biden administration, re-evaluating relations with the kingdom and pledging to end the six-year war in Yemen.

The first round of Saudi-Iranian talks was held in Baghdad on April 9. Discussions about the Houthi attacks were included and were positive, one of the officials said.

The official said that the Saudi delegation, led by Khalid bin Ali al-Humaidan, is headed by the intelligence chief, and added that another round of talks is scheduled for next week.

The process is being facilitated by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who had talks with Prince Mohammed in Riyadh last month.

“It goes faster because the US is talking [related to the nuclear deal] they are moving faster and [because of] Houthi attacks, ”the official said.

Hassan Rouhani President of Iran © Iranian Presidency / AFP via Getty

Mohammed bin Salman, Prince of Saudi Arabia © Bloomberg

A senior Saudi official has denied having held talks with Iran. The governments of Iraq and Iran did not comment.

But a senior Iraqi official and a foreign diplomat have confirmed the talks. An Iraqi official added that Baghdad has also facilitated “communication channels” between Iran and Jordan.

“The Prime Minister is very keen to personally play the role of becoming a bridge between these antagonistic powers in the Iraqi region,” the official said.

“It’s in Iraq’s interest to play that role. The more confrontations there are in the region, the more they play here… And these talks are happening.”

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the top Shiite power in the region, which considers itself the leader of the Sunni Muslim world, were hurt in January 2016 after attempts were made to embassy the kingdom of Tehran.

In 2016, Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran © Reuters

The embassy was set on fire by Saudi Arabia’s executive Nimr al-Nimr Sheikh, the church’s main Shiite. The rivals, who accused each other of destabilizing the region, severed diplomatic relations.

Tensions escalated in 2018 after former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal and imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Prince Mohammed was a strong supporter of Trump’s maximum pressure campaign against Tehran. But Saudi Arabia’s vulnerability to the attack was later revealed missile and drone attack By September 2019, half of the kingdom’s crude oil production had temporarily disappeared.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, but U.S. and Saudi officials blamed Iran.

Washington and Riyadh are accused of smuggling missiles and drones into empty Iran, which in early 2015 hardened the Islamist movement that controlled Sana’a, the capital of Yemen and northern Yemen.

Iraq has also been caught by tensions in the region inhabited by powerful militant movements in support of Iran, especially when Trump ordered the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the force of the Quds expedition of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, in Baghdad in January 2020.

This pushed the U.S. and the Islamic republic to the brink of war, with Iraq taking in about 2,500 U.S. troops, most likely when the battlefield narrowed between Baghdad and Washington and Tehran.

Iran has built strong ties with its neighbor with security, political relations and trade since the U.S.-led invasion overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Smoke rises from Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing plant in Buqyaq after drone attack © AP

The Saudi-Iranian talks are a sign that the Biden elections will rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal and remove many sanctions against Iran if Tehran complies with the agreement as a sign that regional dynamics have begun to change again.

The other signatories to the nuclear deal – Iran, the EU, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China – have been negotiating in Vienna for a reunification with the United States.

In January, Riyadh ended its regional embargo on Qatar for more than three years, partly due to Doha’s ties with Tehran. The movement was seen as part of Prince Mohammed efforts to gain credibility with the Biden administration.

Riyadh, which spoke out against the nuclear deal, said it would not interfere with nuclear talks. But he wants regional powers to take part in discussions related to a new agreement and stressed that Iran’s missile program and regional activities should be directed.

“Kadhimi has good ties to the Iranian system. It’s a new thing for Kadhimik to play that role with Saudi Arabia, “another official said in talks.” It’s a good thing that Iraq is playing that role, but it’s too early. “

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose last term ends in August, has previously stated that he wants to cool enemies with Arab rivals.

Additional information Najmeh Bozorgmehr

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