The head of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group on Friday welcomed Iraq-hosted talks between Tehran and Riyadh, saying they could ease tensions in the troubled region.
“We support all dialog involving Iran at the international, regional or Arab level. It contributes to calming the region,” Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech broadcast on Lebanese television.
In addition to tensions caused by its nuclear program and shadow maritime war with Israel, Iran has a number of terror proxies operating across the Middle East.
Hezbollah is one of the most prominent members of the self-styled “axis of resistance” armed terror groups, which has tens of thousands of fighters beholden to Tehran.
Iraq’s President Barham Saleh said Wednesday that his country recently hosted direct talks between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran on more than one occasion, the first public recognition of Baghdad’s role as mediator.
The two sides are expected to hold further talks this month, according to multiple sources including a Western official familiar with the process.
Late last month, Iran welcomed a “change of tone” from Saudi Arabia which it said could clear the way to a new era of cooperation between the rival regional powers.
The development came after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called for “a good and special relationship” with Tehran, following the reported secret talks with Iran.
Saudi Arabia has sought discussions with Iran as the kingdom tries to end its years-long war in Yemen against Iran-backed Houthi rebels. Tehran, meanwhile, appears to have calculated that a gradual detente with Riyadh, a long-time US ally, will work in its favor during renewed nuclear talks with Washington and world powers.
Neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia have confirmed that the talks took place, though Iranian officials have alluded to them and welcomed the discussions.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been regional rivals. Relations worsened considerably in 2016, when Riyadh removed its diplomats after protesters attacked its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad in retaliation for the kingdom executing a prominent Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr.