London-based news site Middle East Eye (MEE) exclusively reported that Saudi and Iraqi officials held another round of secret talks in Baghdad last week. Quoting Iraqi officials familiar with talks between the two countries in Baghdad, MEE stated that Iran requested Saudi help to sell its oil.
An Iraqi official told MEE that Iran plans to sell its oil to Saudi Arabia at a price lower than the international market on the condition that Saudi sells Iranian petrol on the world market at international prices. By this, Iran aims to circumvent the US sanctions reimposed by former president Donald Trump in 2018. According to the report, the Iranian offer came in exchange for stopping the Houthi group’s attacks targeting Saudi soil, which have intensified in recent times.
A new round of secret talks between the regional rivals was held last week, the report added. A limited number of Iraqi officials, with the purpose of “contributing to the convergence of views and ameliorating the atmosphere,” were also present in negotiations. One Iraqi official who attended the meetings indicated that the two sides aim to “end the state of conflict and incitement waged by the institutions associated with both countries at all levels.”
The ongoing war in Yemen was the main agenda of last week’s negotiations, an Iraqi source said. In this regard, Saudi priority was stopping Iranian-backed Houthi attacks targeting the Kingdom’s critical oil and economic institutions. In his televised interview aired last month, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman affirmed that his country offered economic support to the Houthi group in return to end its attacks against the Kingdom.
In addition to its demand regarding oil sales, Iran also suggested the involvement of the Houthi group in the Yemeni government.
Recently, the Saudi deputy defense minister and head of the Saudi military Industries Authority, Khalid bin Salman, visited Baghdad to hold talks with high-level Iraqi officials, including President Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and President Barham Salih. However, it was not clear whether the Saudi minister’s visit is related to the Iranian-Saudi talks.
Iraqi officials also affirmed that the next round of the Saudi-Iranian talks would be held in Baghdad in the upcoming days. In this context, an Iranian delegation, comprised of members from the Iranian intelligence service and the Revolutionary Guard Corps, has already arrived in Baghdad, the officials reported.
Moreover, Iraqi President Barham Salih confirmed that his country had hosted negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Iran more than once, during his interview last week.