Iraqi President Barham Salih gave an interview to the Beirut Institute think-tank. The president’s interview was broadcasted live online. Speaking upon a question regarding the latest reports indicating that officials from Saudi Arabia and Iran had held secret meetings through Iraqi mediatory in Baghdad, President Salih made statements confirming these negotiations.
Upon a question of how many times these talks have occurred, the Iraqi President responded by saying, “More than once.” Salih also highlighted the importance of such talks between the two regional powers. He also praised his country’s role in bringing these two countries together in Baghdad.
“It is ongoing, it is important, and it is significant, and for Iraq to be able to play that convening role between these regional actors is important,” Barham Salih said.
In recent weeks, some reports claiming that Saudi Arabia and Iran held secret talks in Baghdad on April 9 circulated in international outlets. While both sides did not clearly confirm or deny the existence of such a meeting, some statements in calm tones came regarding bilateral relations from the two countries’ officials.
Last week, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said, in a televised interview, that his country would like to build good and distinguished relations with Iran. Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh stated that dialogue with Saudi Arabia is always welcomed.
The Iraqi President’s confirmation came following these warm explanations that echoed from both countries’ high officials.
It is expected that establishing direct communication channels between the two arch-rivals of the region would contribute to easing tensions across the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia and Iran cut their diplomatic ties in 2016 when the Saudi Embassy in Iran was attacked over the execution of a Shia cleric by the Saudi authorities. Since then, the two counties have frequently come up against each other and entered into multiple proxy conflicts in the region, most notably in Yemen.