Iran, Saudi Arabia hold first talks since Raisi’s appointment

Published September 28, 2021
In this file photo, Ebrahim Raisi gestures after casting his vote during presidential elections at a polling station in Tehran. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, Ebrahim Raisi gestures after casting his vote during presidential elections at a polling station in Tehran. — Reuters/File

BAGHDAD: Representatives from Iran and Saudi Arabia have held a new round of talks in Baghdad, two Iraqi officials said on Monday, in the first such meeting between the regional foes since President Raisi was sworn in in Tehran.

The meeting held last week discussed pending issues between the two countries according to a previously agreed on roadmap, including diplomatic representation between the two countries, according to one Iraqi official. The official said the meeting was not on a ministerial level, but described the talks as positive.

Iraq has recently played the role of mediator between the two regional foes whose rivalry has often played out to deadly consequences in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

Multiple rounds of discussions have been held in Baghdad since the first direct talks between Riyadh and Tehran took place in early April. Saudi Arabia has sought talks with Iran as the kingdom tries to end its years-long war in Yemen against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, having lost an unflinching supporter in President Joe Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. Iran, meanwhile, appears to have calculated that a gradual detente with Saudi Arabia, a longtime US ally, will work in its favor during renewed nuclear talks with Washington and world powers.

Last month, Baghdad hosted a regional conference that brought together Arab heads of state and senior officials including the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2021

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