Illustrative image of flags of Iran and Saudi Arabia (Photo Credit Getty images)
On 13 March, Iran-based Nour News reported that the Iranian government had temporarily suspended talks with its regional rival Saudi Arabia.
The outlet did not reveal the source of the information or the reason for the abrupt suspension of the talks. The two sides were set to meet in the Iraqi capital Baghdad for a fifth round of negotiations in three days.
Talks aiming to ending hostilities between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been ongoing since April 2020.
The Saudi government has yet to issue a statement on the suspension of negotiations. Baghdad, which was expected to host the talks on 16 March, has also not commented on the matter.
Coincidentally, the decision by Iran to suspend the talks comes a day after Saudi Arabia executed 81 men over what it called “allegiance to foreign terrorist organizations and … deviant beliefs.”
Human rights activists have noted that about half the men who were executed were members of the Shia community.
The two regional heavyweights severed ties in 2016 after protesters, angered by Riyadh’s decision to execute a prominent Shia cleric, stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been frosty for years over a variety of issues, including the war on Yemen, where, since March 2015, Riyadh and its allies have been fighting the Ansarallah resistance movement.
The Saudi-led coalition invaded Yemen with the aim of removing Ansarallah from the capital city of Sanaa, and restoring the government of Saudi-backed former president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
Riyadh accuses Iran of providing military equipment and training to Ansarallah. Both Tehran and Sanaa have strongly rejected the allegations.