Saudi Arabia has confirmed that it had held its first round of direct talks with Iran’s new government last month, part of a process begun earlier this year to reduce tension between the Gulf’s rival powers.
Both nations severed ties in 2016 and began talks in April, at a time when Washington and Tehran were discussing reviving a nuclear pact that Riyadh and its allies had opposed.
Three rounds of Saudi-Iranian talks were held in Iraq in the months before Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, took office in August.
Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said the latest round had taken place on September 21. He did not give the location of the meeting. The date coincides with a speech by Raisi at the UN General Assembly in New York.
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“These discussions are still in the exploratory phase. We hope they will provide a basis to address unresolved issues between the two sides and we will strive and work to realise that,” he told a joint news conference.
Riyadh and Tehran have both said they hope the talks can ease tensions, while playing down expectations of a major diplomatic breakthrough. Iran did not immediately comment on the September 21 round of talks. Riyadh has said it would judge the government of Raisi by the reality on the ground.
Prince Faisal was speaking during a visit to Riyadh by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who said he had briefed his partners on the prospects for restarting the nuclear talks.