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Iran welcomes call for dialogue
May 15, 2014, 9:31 am
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Riyadh reportedly received positive feedback for direct talks

Iran’s government spokesperson Mohammad Baqer Nobakht on Wednesday said that the “promotion of ties with Saudi Arabia is on the Iranian government’s agenda.”

“The reinforcement of ties with neighbouring countries is among priorities of the Iranian government,” Nobakht told the media, Islamic Republic News Agency (Irna) reported.

The official added that “the expansion of mutual cooperation would benefit both countries and the entire region.”

Nobakht’s remarks were made one day after Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal extended an invitation to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit Riyadh, stressing the Kingdom’s readiness for negotiations with Iran.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hussain Amir Abdollahian said on Wednesday that the visit was on the agenda, although he added that no written invitation had been received from Saudi Arabia yet.

A report published in a London-based daily said that a Gulf country had succeeded in narrowing the gap between Riyadh and Tehran and encouraged the two capitals to agree on holding a meeting that would bring a thaw in their tense relations.

The paper did not name the country, but speculation points to either Kuwait or Oman, both of which have good ties with Riyadh and Tehran.

According to the report, the attempts to reach a common ground have been going on for three months and seemingly succeeded after Riyadh received positive signals and feedback that Tehran was genuine in improving its relations with the largest country in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Saudi Arabia has often complained about Iran’s interference in the domestic affairs of countries in the region.

On April 29, the Saudi kingdom became the first country in the Middle East to exhibit publicly its nuclear-capable missiles, displaying the long-range, liquid propellant DF-3 ballistic missile at a military parade.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Saud Al Faisal, said Riyadh had invited Iran’s foreign minister to visit.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has adopted a conciliatory tone towards Tehran’s neighbours since taking office last year, but while Zarif has visited other Gulf Arab states, he has not yet been to Saudi Arabia.

Rapprochement between the two countries would have ramifications across the Middle East, potentially cooling political and military struggles in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen.

 

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