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Iran ready to resume tension-easing talks with Saudi Arabia

December 23, 2021 at 8:03 pm

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in Yemen on June 16, 2015 [AFP via Getty Images]

Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday announced Tehran’s readiness to take part in the next round of tension-easing talks with Saudi Arabia brokered by Iraq, Anadolu Agency reported.

Addressing a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein in Tehran, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran presented “a set of practical proposals” to Riyadh, which were viewed “positively” by the Saudi authorities, paving the way for the next round of talks in Baghdad.

The talks aimed at restoring diplomatic ties between the two long-time adversaries, which began in April, were stalled following the general elections in Iraq in October.

Iran’s top diplomat said his country is ready to facilitate visits of technical delegations to make necessary preparations for the normalization of diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, but hastened to add that it has not yet been determined “at what stage” of the ongoing talks will such a development take place.

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Amir-Abdollahian also noted that Tehran last week received the Saudi government’s approval on visas for three Iranian diplomats who will be based at the headquarters of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jeddah.

Iran’s foreign minister further said Tehran was waiting for the response of Saudi authorities on what he called the “delayed repatriation” of the Iranian envoy to the Houthis in Yemen.

Hassan Irlou, a seasoned diplomat and a former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander who was last week airlifted to Tehran after contracting COVID-19, died at a Tehran hospital on Tuesday.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the envoy died due to virus complications as he was transferred to the country in a “bad state” and due to “late cooperation” of some countries, in a veiled reference to Saudi Arabia.

The issue is likely to affect the ongoing efforts to broker a deal between the two sides.

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Iraq’s top diplomat, in his remarks, said Saudi Arabia and the US had “cooperated” in transferring the Iranian envoy to Tehran from Yemen, expressing gratitude to them.

Fuad Hussein went on to say that the time had come for “direct talks” between Tehran and Washington on the 2015 nuclear deal and removal of sanctions, offering to mediate it.

In his remarks, Amir-Abdollahian lashed out at the EU3 countries (France, Germany, and Italy), particularly France, for what he termed “unconstructive role” in the ongoing Vienna talks, while praising the efforts of EU representative and the talks’ coordinator, Enrique Mora.

Meanwhile, Mora in a tweet on Thursday announced that the eighth round of talks in Vienna would resume on Dec. 27, after the Christmas holidays, “to discuss and define the way forward.”