Creating new perspectives since 2009

FT: Saudi and Iranian officials held talks to patch up relations

April 18, 2021 at 12:16 pm

Supporters of Yemen’s Houthi movement raise their fists up as they chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the closed US Embassy in the capital Sanaa on January 18, 2021 [Mohammed Hamoud – Anadolu Agency]

Senior Saudi and Iranian officials have held direct talks in a bid to repair their relations, four years after they cut off diplomatic ties, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing officials briefed on the discussions, Reuters has reported.

The first round of Saudi-Iranian talks took place in Baghdad on April 9, and included discussions about attacks on Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, the FT report added, citing one of the officials.

The talks were positive, the official told the FT.

The FT also said that a senior Saudi official denied there had been any talks with Iran. Lebanon’s pro-Iran Al Mayadeen television channel and Unews news agency on Sunday both cited an Iranian source denying talks with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi authorities did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment and Iranian officials were not immediately available.

READ: Houthis to prosecute Yemen model for ‘violating Islamic dress codes’

The report comes as Washington and Tehran try to revive a 2015 nuclear accord to which Riyadh had been opposed and as the United States presses for an end to the Yemen conflict, seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Riyadh has called for a nuclear deal with stronger parameters and said Gulf Arab states should join any negotiations on the accord to ensure that this time it addresses Iran’s missiles programme and its support for regional proxies.

Saudi Arabia and its allies supported former US President Donald Trump’s decision in 2018 to quit the world powers’ nuclear agreement and reimpose sanctions on Tehran, which responded by breaching several restrictions on its nuclear activities.

A Saudi foreign ministry official told Reuters last week that confidence-building measures could pave the way for expanded talks with Gulf Arab participation.

READ: Houthis say they attacked anti-missile structure in Saudi