Rapprochement With Saudis Likely

Rapprochement With Saudis LikelyRapprochement With Saudis Likely

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said there is considerable potential for easing Tehran-Riyadh relations.

Ansari was optimistic that the current situation of bilateral relations would change, if the Saudi government expresses the requisite desire, IRNA reported on Monday.

He said a new Saudi ambassador has been named and the diplomatic process is underway so he can begin his work soon.

The last Saudi Arabian ambassador to Iran, Abdulrahman bin Groman Shahri, left Tehran in April 2014 and since then, the Saudi Embassy has had no ambassador. Asked about the recent statements of Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi who said that “a level of negotiations” has begun between Iran and Saudi Arabia on bilateral relations and regional issues, Ansari said Saudi Arabia is one of Iran's major neighbors and "it is Iran's permanent policy to have dialogues with neighbors".

In an interview with Al Alam news channel on Sunday, Qashqavi said Iran and Saudi Arabia have not severed diplomatic relations.

It was followed by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir's statements on his Twitter account that Saudi Arabia seeks to improve relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

"We want to develop the best relations with Iran, an Islamic neighboring country with an old history and civilization," Jubeir said.

The remarks mark a turnaround, as the top Saudi diplomat has on several occasions in the past made derogatory statements against Tehran's regional policy.

  Change in Approach Needed

A lawmaker hoped that the new statements of Jubeir could be a sign of change in the Saudi government's approach.

In an interview with ICANA, Spokesman of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Nozar Shafiei said there are huge capacities for cooperation, which should be used in line with the two nation's interests. Shafiei said Iran and Saudi Arabia are geographically close, so naturally it is rational for them to engage in peaceful coexistence, instead of looking for adventures.

Ties between Tehran and Riyadh have been strained in recent months after their conflicting views on regional developments, particularly on Yemen and Syria, became more noticeable.