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Iran welcomes ‘change of tone’ from Saudi Arabia, signalling shift in relations

April 30, 2021 at 3:14 pm

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh in Tehran, Iran on 5 October 2020 [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]

Iran has welcomed a “change of tone” from Saudi Arabia, as both countries seem to be open to taking steps to calm tensions and improve cooperation

In a statement yesterday by the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said that “by adopting constructive stances…the two countries…can enter a new chapter of interaction and cooperation to reach peace, stability and regional development, by overcoming differences.”

Tehran, he added, is “a pioneer on the path to regional cooperation and welcomes the change of tone from Saudi Arabia.” Khatibzadeh’s remarks come days after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman himself called for “a good and special relationship” with Iran in a televised interview on Tuesday.

Bin Salman acknowledged that the kingdom still has problems with Iran’s “negative behavior”, but added: “We are working with our regional and global partners to find solutions to these problems and we hope to overcome them for good relations that benefit everyone.”

READ: Saudi offers Houthis economic support in exchange for halting attacks on the kingdom

The conciliatory tones come after it was reported earlier this month that officials from the two countries held secret talks in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Hosted by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, the talks were confirmed by Iraqi officials and a Western diplomat was cited as saying that he had been “briefed in advance” regarding the efforts to “broker a better relationship and decrease tensions.”

Relations between Tehran and Riyadh have increasingly deteriorated over much of the past decade and ties were cut in 2016 after the kingdom executed the prominent Shia cleric Nimr Al-Nimr and dozens of others found guilty for leading mass protests in the country’s east.

The two countries have also been supporting opposing sides in a number of conflicts in the region, including Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

READ: Iran backs Yemen ceasefire after talks with Houthi spokesman