Iran declined to say whether it would hold secret talks with Saudi Arabia, but added that it was open to talks with enemies in the region.
Tehran, Iran – Iran’s Foreign Ministry said it was ready to negotiate directly with Saudi Arabia after it was reported that two rivals in the region had recently held secret talks in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Monday declined to confirm or deny the talks reported on April 9 in Baghdad, but added that the media had used the “quote contradictions “and has a history of fabricating news, referring to reports by the London-based Financial Times and Reuters news agency.
However, Mr. Khatibzadeh pointed out that Iran “always welcomes negotiations with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and thinks it benefits the people of the two countries as well as peace and stability of the region, and thinking. this will continue ”.
The two countries have not had formal diplomatic relations since January 2016 when the Saudi embassy in Tehran was stormed after a prominent Shia Muslim leader was executed by Riyadh.
According to reports by the Financial Times and Reuters, Iranian and Saudi officials held face-to-face talks on April 9 to discuss the war in Yemen, where a military alliance led by the Arab. The Saudi leader has been fighting Iran-linked Houthi rebels since March 2015.
The talks are also believed to have involved Lebanon, where there is political and economic uncertainty, and where Arab states are concerned about the influence of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.
Unnamed sources from Iran and Saudi Arabia deny the talks were held in Iraq.
The meeting reportedly came shortly after Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi traveled to Saudi Arabia to hold talks with the country’s top leaders, including the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Al-Kadhimi also visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE), another Iranian rival in the region.
Iraq holds close ties with neighboring Iran and a number of high-level political delegations have traveled to Tehran to discuss the region in recent months.
Reports of direct Iran-Saudi Arabia talks also come as Iran and world powers are negotiating for weeks in Vienna to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the county deal. The country’s landmark 2015.
Iran has accused the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), led by Saudi Arabia, of trying to derail the talks that, if successful, would lift harsh US sanctions against the country.
The GCC countries have repeatedly said they want to be involved in the talks and have called for the JCPOA expansion to limit Iran’s missile program and its growing influence in the region.