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Saudi crown prince says seeking improved ties with rival Iran

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman strikes a conciliatory tone towards the kingdom’s arch-nemesis Iran, saying he seeks “good” relations, after sources said the rivals held secret talks in Baghdad.

The two countries, locked in a fierce struggle for regional dominance, cut ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following the kingdom’s execution of a revered Shiite cleric.

“Iran is a neighboring country, and all we aspire for is a good and special relationship with Iran,” the prince says in a television interview.

“We do not want Iran’s situation to be difficult. On the contrary, we want Iran to grow… and to push the region and the world towards prosperity.”

He adds that Riyadh is working with regional and global partners to find solutions to Tehran’s “negative behavior.”

That marks a change in tone compared to the Saudi royal’s previous interviews, in which he lashed out at Tehran, accusing it of fueling regional insecurity.

The prince doesn’t mention any negotiations with Tehran.

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