Saudi Arabia admitted that a long-anticipated new round of negotiations with Iran had been held last month. This has been the first such meeting with the new Iranian government under hardliner President Ebrahim Raisi.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan made a statement confirming the latest round of talks had been held on September 21. Prince Faisal did not elaborate on any further details regarding the meeting. The meeting was also noteworthy as it concurred the same day that President Raisi addressed the United Nations 76th General Assembly in New York.
Speaking at the joint press conference, Saudi Minister said, “These discussions are still in the exploratory phase. We hope they will provide a basis to address unresolved issues between the two sides and we will strive and work to realize that.”
The negotiations for easing tension between the Gulf’s rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran began earlier this year with a meeting that had taken place in Baghdad earlier this year through the mediation of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
The two arch-foes, who suspended diplomatic relations in 2016, started to negotiate in April. The process also coincided with the launch of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
Three rounds of exploratory talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran took place in Iraq months before hardliner Ebrahim Raisi took office as Iran’s new president in August.
In his pre-recorded statement at the UN 76th General Assembly, Saudi King Salman expressed his hope that the talks would bear fruitful outcomes. Previously, Riyadh stated that the new Iranian government under Raisi would be judged according to its actions.
Saudi Foreign Minister’s remarks came during a joint conference held with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell who visited Riyadh within the scope of his regional tour.