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Riyadh Ready for Rapprochement with Tehran, Saudi FM Says

TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud claimed that Riyadh stands ready for rapprochement with Iran, but alleged that Tehran is “not serious about talks with Riyadh”.

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“Our hands are outstretched for peace with Iran, but it does not commit itself to agreements,” Al Saud said during an interview with Al Arabiya TV channel.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in January 2016 following angry protests outside its embassy in Tehran over Riyadh’s execution of a prominent cleric. Ever since, the country has followed a hostile policy which intensified in line with former US president Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” on Tehran.

The remarks came two days after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif welcomed his Qatari counterpart’s call for the Persian Gulf Arab countries to hold talks with Iran, saying Tehran has long demanded neighborly cooperation towards establishing a strong Middle East.

Tehran has on many occasions announced its readiness to hold talks with its neighbors directly. It has already put forward an initiative called the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) to promote security in the Persian Gulf and facilitate such neighborly negotiations.

Prince Faisal claimed that Iran’s “calls for dialogue are meant to divert attention away from its own crises”.

Riyadh acted as one of the main forces behind Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with Tehran, after which the US returned its draconian sanctions against Tehran.

Commenting on the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the top Saudi diplomat claimed that new US President Joe Biden had pledged to include Persian Gulf allies and Israel in any future talks that focused on Iran’s nuclear program as well as its missiles and regional role.

The JCPOA was “weak” because there was a lack of coordination with the countries in the region, Prince Faisal said.

“We will consult with the US regarding the agreement so that it will be a strong basis,” he added. “The European countries understand that the previous agreement with Tehran has flaws.”

Iran has categorically dismissed negotiating the nuclear deal with the regional countries. Tehran has also rejected any renegotiation of the JCPOA, saying the US must lift the sanctions before returning to the nuclear deal.