Tehran Welcomes Any Initiative for De-Escalation in Region

Tehran Welcomes Any Initiative for De-Escalation in Region
Tehran Welcomes Any Initiative for De-Escalation in Region

Iran in general welcomes any initiative that would help reduce tensions and increase cooperation in the Middle East, according to a senior diplomat.
“We are definitely seeking to initiate a kind of dialogue with our neighbors [toward this end],” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a recent interview in Clubhouse, ISNA reported. 
He made the remarks in response to unofficial reports about Iran’s negotiation with Saudi Arabia earlier this month in Iraq to ease tensions.
Tehran and Riyadh have had no diplomatic ties since 2016 because of several disputes on various fronts.
Foreign media have reported that Saudi and Iranian officials have held discussions in Iraq over a regional de-escalation.
They quoted informed sources as saying that the talks proceeded after Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi visited Riyadh, and are led by Saudi intelligence chief Khalid Humaidan and Saeed Iravani, the deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.
Khatibzadeh did not explicitly confirm or deny the reports, but said such kind of dialogue is not extraordinary and had already taken place with the mediation of several regional and non-regional states such as Iraq, Kuwait, Pakistan, China and Germany.
“There has always been direct and indirect communications and contacts between the two countries, even in recent years,” he said, adding that there have also been positive indications in this regard on the part of Saudi Arabia lately. 
According to the diplomat, the path to normalization is a difficult one, since there are serious disagreements between the two on several regional and bilateral issues. 
“But I believe it is in the interest of both countries, as well as regional peace and stability, to find a way to address those differences.”
He also welcomed Iraq’s role in regional de-escalation, as a country that has connections with all parties.
Iran’s ambassador in Baghdad had earlier said Tehran welcomes Iraqi mediation to mend its ties with Persian Gulf Arab states. 
“The Islamic Republic supports Baghdad’s mediation to bring Tehran closer to countries with which we have faced challenges or with which ties have cooled, and Iraqi officials have been notified of this,” Iraj Masjedi had said. 
He, however, said no clear result and significant progress has been reached yet. 
“Let’s wait for the work to go forward and we can see practical results.”

Two Issues 

Reports of de-escalatory efforts by Iran and Saudi Arabia come, as the United States is working to revive a 2015 nuclear pact with Tehran and end the Yemen war.
Iran’s talks with Saudi Arabia had reportedly focused on both issues. 
“The April meeting was a very constructive meeting during which many issues, mainly the Yemen crisis and Iran’s nuclear deal were discussed,” Reuters quoted an official in the Middle East as saying. 
The official and two regional sources have said further talks could happen before the end of the month but the timing depended on progress in Vienna negotiations. A foreign diplomat in Riyadh said a second meeting is expected in late April or early May.
Yemen has been engaged in a six-year war between a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the Iran-aligned Houthi group. 
Riyadh is also opposed to Iran’s nuclear accord with the world powers for not tackling Tehran’s missiles program and regional policies, and has called for a stronger deal. 
The deal was abandoned by Washington and Tehran surpassed its limits in response to the US reimposed sanctions. 
Talks are currently underway in Vienna, Austria, between Iran and the remaining members, which are conducting shuttle diplomacy with the US to bring the agreement back to life. 
The regional official claimed that the Iranian side said it would use Tehran’s influence to halt Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and in return called for Riyadh’s support for nuclear talks, an account confirmed by another source familiar with the matter.

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