(Photo credit: AP)
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has said that talks between representatives from Tehran and Riyadh have entered advanced stages and have made “remarkable progress.”
At a press conference in Baghdad on 7 June, Kadhimi said Iraq played an integral role in bringing the views of the regional rivals closer by hosting talks between the two nations.
Kadhimi added: “Iraq has hosted five different dialogues in these two years, of which Saudi–Iran talks are just one … Iraq is a central country in the region and it can therefore play a very significant role.”
On 24 May, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faysal Bin Farhan al-Saud said there was “some but not enough” progress in the talks with Iran, although he also referred to the talks as a “new era of cooperation.”
His remarks came after Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh confirmed that Tehran had held a fifth round of “positive” talks with Riyadh in Baghdad.
Tehran and Riyadh severed diplomatic relations in 2016, but in recent months, the two countries have expressed a desire to improve relations.
Ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia were cut after Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, which led to angry protesters attacking the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
The fifth round of talks were held in April, after their suspension a month earlier.
Iran’s decision to suspend the talks was made after Saudi Arabia conducted a mass execution of 81 men, half of whom were members of the Shia community, over what the kingdom called “allegiance to foreign terrorist organizations and … deviant beliefs.”
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been frosty for years over a variety of issues, including the war on Yemen, where Riyadh and its allies have been fighting the Ansarallah resistance movement since March 2015.