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Davos 2023: Saudi FM says Riyadh trying to find path to dialogue with Iran

January 17, 2023 at 7:45 pm

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan. [JUNG YEON-JE/POOL/AFP]

Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, said the Kingdom was trying to find a path to dialogue with Iran as the best way to resolve differences, Reuters reports.

He said a decision by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to focus on their economies and development was a “strong signal to Iran and others in the region that there is a pathway beyond traditional arguments and disputes towards joint prosperity”.

The Middle East’s leading Sunni Muslim and Shia powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran, have for years vied for influence in a rivalry that has played out across the region in events such as the conflicts in Yemen and Syria and in Lebanon.

Riyadh and Tehran cut ties in 2016, but officials from the two countries have held five rounds of direct talks hosted by Iraq since last year, the last of which was in April, without achieving any diplomatic breakthroughs.

Gulf Arab states are concerned about Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and network of regional proxies, but want to contain tensions as they focus on economic priorities.

READ: Agreement reached with Saudi Arabia to continue dialogue until relations are normalised

The Saudi Foreign Minister, speaking at a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, also said there was a need to find a route to ending the Russia-Ukraine conflict, otherwise global uncertainty would continue.

“This is complex question, but we will have to talk about how we find a pathway to ending the conflict,” he said.

Prince Faisal said attention on the Middle East was also needed, citing Syria as well as regional concerns over “provocative policies” by Israel’s new government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu in an alliance with ultra-nationalists.

Netanyahu has pledged to pursue formal Israeli ties with Riyadh to build on normalisation pacts signed with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2020 under his leadership.

Gulf powerhouse, Saudi Arabia, blessed the US-brokered pacts but stopped short of formally recognising Israel in the absence of a resolution to Palestinian statehood goals.

READ: Iran welcomes resumption of talks with Saudi Arabia