Tehran: “Bloomberg” agency quoted two well-informed sources on Wednesday as saying that Iran has asked Saudi Arabia to reopen consulates and restore diplomatic relations, as a prelude to ending the war in Yemen.
Bloomberg reported that while world powers push for negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic has quietly held four rounds of discussions aimed at easing years of tensions with Saudi Arabia. The focus was on Yemen, where the two countries support the warring parties.
The last round of Saudi-Iranian talks was held on September 21, and another round is expected to be held soon.
And Bloomberg pointed out that Saudi Arabia, which has been engaged in confrontations with the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen since 2015, seeks to end a conflict that exposed its oil facilities to drone and missile attacks.
Bloomberg added that Saudi Arabia wants an agreement on Yemen as an initial step towards rebuilding diplomatic relations, cut since 2016, but Iran insists that normalization comes first.
The two sources said that Iran had proposed reopening the two consulates in the Iranian cities of Mashhad and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia as a sign of goodwill. One said the talks have made progress overall, but tend to falter when it comes to details.
The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry had recently stated that negotiations with Saudi Arabia had reached a “more serious stage.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that “dialogue with Saudi Arabia can lead to ensuring security and stability in the region.”
He explained, “We discussed with Saudi Arabia a number of common and regional files, including the Yemeni issue.” He continued, “The conditions of the Yemeni people are tragic, and our negotiations with Saudi Arabia focus on establishing security in this country.”
It should be noted that the official relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been severed since January 3, 2016 against the backdrop of the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the city of Mashhad, northern Iran, and setting fire to them by Iranians protesting the execution of the Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr. With 46 people convicted of belonging to “terrorist organizations”.
Last September, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz said that “Iran is a neighboring country, and we hope that our initial talks with it will lead to tangible results to build confidence and pave the way for achieving the aspirations of our peoples.”