Saudi Arabia welcomes Iran framework deal

Saudi Arabia welcomes Iran framework deal

While its media cries betrayal, monarchy officially says it hopes agreement will help rid region of weapons of mass destruction; hails Palestinian ICC bid

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet said Monday that it welcomes the understandings reached between Iran and world powers in Lausanne, Switzerland, last week regarding the future of Tehran’s nuclear program.

In a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency, the kingdom “expressed hope that a final, binding and definitive agreement would be reached leading to the strengthening of security and stability in the region and the world.”

The statement marked a stark contrast with Saudi media reports on the deal, which have expressed a sense of betrayal over the framework accord.

The cabinet urged clearing the region of all weapons of mass destruction, and in an apparent reference to Tehran’s involvement in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, appealed for “good neighborliness and non-interference in the affairs of Arab states.”

Iran and Saudi Arabia, the foremost Shiite and Sunni Muslim powers in the Middle East, have had troubled relations in recent years after taking different sides in the Syrian civil war. Before the framework agreement was announced, Saudi Arabia expressed fears that if too much of Iran’s nuclear program is left intact, it will still have the ability to obtain an atomic bomb.

Relations have been further strained by the conflict raging in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has waged more than a week of airstrikes against Iran-backed Shiite rebels.

King Salman expressed similar sentiments with regard to the framework deal Thursday in a phone conversation with President Barack Obama, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet also hailed the International Criminal Court’s acceptance of the Palestinians as full members last week. “The cabinet stressed that the accession of the State of Palestine to the International Criminal Court strengthens its presence in the international field to preserve the rights of the Palestinian people,” the statement added.

The framework deal announced Thursday envisions a final agreement that would pare back Iran’s nuclear program for at least a decade in return for sanctions relief. Iran and six world powers, including the United States, hope to reach a final agreement by June 30.

Following the agreement’s signing, Obama spoke with the leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to share details on the framework agreement reached with Iran, the White House said in a statement, according to Reuters. Obama invited the leaders of the Gulf states to meet with him at Camp David later this year to discuss the final deal.

AFP, AP contributed to this report.

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