Iraqi President Barham Salih has confirmed recent reports that his country has held more than one round of talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Salih made the revelation yesterday during an interview aired live online with the Beirut Institute think tank, describing the ongoing talks as “important and significant”, but provided no further details.
Last month a senior Saudi official denied that Baghdad held secret talks between the two regional rivals, although Iran’s Foreign Ministry stated that it welcomed Iraq’s mediation in helping it mend ties with Gulf Arab states. This was also reiterated by Iran’s Ambassador to Baghdad, Iraj Masjedi.
On Monday Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Saeed Khatibzadeh, announced that the Islamic Republic was ready to hold talks with Riyadh “at any level and in any form”, it follows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stating in an interview that the kingdom wishes to establish a “good” relationship with Iran as a neighbouring country.
Iran and Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties in 2016 after Riyadh executed a high-profile Saudi Shia cleric and activist, Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr prompting mass protests both domestically in the eastern province town of Qatif and in Iran where a mob ransacked and set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Both countries have also been engaged in several proxy wars in the region with a rivalry based on competing sectarian ideologies and geopolitics motives.