Iran confirms talks with Saudi Arabia but says ‘too soon’ to discuss results

Countries cut relations in 2016 but have reportedly been holding negotiations ‘both bilateral and regional’

Iran President Hassan Rouhani (L) and Saudi Arabia King Salman. (AP)
Iran President Hassan Rouhani (L) and Saudi Arabia King Salman. (AP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s foreign ministry confirmed for the first time Monday that the Islamic Republic is holding talks with regional rival Saudi Arabia, but said it is “too soon” to discuss the results.

Media reports, later confirmed by diplomatic and Iraqi government sources, revealed that Iranian and Saudi officials met in Baghdad in April, their first high-level meeting since Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016.

“The purpose of the talks was both bilateral and regional,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters.

“But let us wait and see the results of these talks … it might still be too soon to talk about the details of the negotiations,” he added, arguing that Iran has “always welcomed such talks at any level and in any shape.”

The neighboring countries cut ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following the kingdom’s execution of a revered Shiite cleric.

The talks in Baghdad, facilitated by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, remained secret until the Financial Times reported that a first meeting was held on April 9.

An Iraqi government official confirmed the talks to AFP, while a Western diplomat said he had been “briefed in advance” about the effort to “broker a better relationship and decrease tensions.”

Iran on April 29 welcomed a “change of tone” from the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman after he called for a “good and special relationship” with Tehran.

The regional rivals have backed opposite sides of several regional conflicts, from Syria to Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is fighting the Houthi rebels.

Iran backs the Houthis, who are battling the Saudi-led military that intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015.

“Deescalation and [establishing] ties between two great Islamic countries in the Persian Gulf region is to the benefit of both nations,” Khatibzadeh said Monday.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.