Saudi-Iran Talks Talk Fuels Hopes of Thaw


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (left) and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. Photo by Salah Malkawi/Getty Images
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (left) and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. Photo by Salah Malkawi/Getty Images

By P K Abdul Ghafour

JEDDAH — A senior Iranian official has voiced hope that talks between the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers could begin soon.  He, however, expressed doubts over whether the meeting would result in a swift solution to key issues.

“We have requested Saudi Arabia to put forth the agenda for the proposed talks,” the official said in a report published by Kuwait’s Al-Rai Arabic newspaper.
He said the talks should focus on the situation in Yemen, as well as developments in Iraq and Syria.

“These hot topics must be discussed for confidence-building.” The Iranian official’s statement comes in the wake of Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal’s invitation to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif for talks.

“There have been talks about the desire to revive communication between the two countries, which was expressed by Iranian officials, namely the Iranian president and his foreign minister,” Prince Saud said in a recent statement.

Saudi analyst Badr Almotawa expressed his hope that Iran would take the Saudi offer seriously to reinforce peace and stability in the region.

“Saudi Arabia has always tried to establish better relations with Iran,” he told Arab News, alluding to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s visit to Tehran when he was crown prince.

He said the Saif Abdullah military maneuver in Hafr Al-Baten, the largest in the Kingdom’s history, had sent a strong message to Iran.
Almotawa also spoke about Saudi Arabia’s long-standing experience in conflict management.

The Iranian official said the contentious issues could be passed on to specialized panels for further discussions. He stressed the importance of Saudi-Iranian cooperation on Syria to prevent the fallout of terrorism to neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.–Arab News

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