Saudi Ties Could Change for the Better

Saudi Ties Could Change for the Better Saudi Ties Could Change for the Better

The Foreign Ministry's spokesperson mentioned the potential for the normalization of Tehran-Riyadh relations.

"An indispensable element of the Islamic Republic's policy is to expand cooperation and constructive interaction with neighbors and Muslim countries. This is a core principle of Iran's foreign policy," Hossein Jaber Ansari was quoted as saying by IRNA on Friday.

"If the Saudi government also demonstrates such a will, there is potential for bilateral ties to change for the better."

His statements were in response to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir's remarks on his Twitter account two weeks ago that his country seeks to improve relations with Iran.

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

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

Days later, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirmed in an interview with Al-Monitor that Tehran has had sideline bilateral conversations with Riyadh in recent weeks, but he said the interactions were brief.

"There have been some short conversations, very welcomed though," Zarif said. "And I've had a couple of exchanges with my Saudi counterpart. Iran's ambassador has had a couple of exchanges in the yard. We hope that is a good beginning. But that's not even near where we should be."

Zarif has stressed that Iran is always ready to engage with neighbors who enjoy priority.

"And once our Saudi friends are ready to engage in serious dialogue, they will find Iran to be … ready," he said.

  Symbol of Resistance

An Israeli airstrike killed Samir Qantar, a senior Hezbollah member, in Syria on Saturday evening.

Israel welcomed Qantar's death, claiming he had been preparing attacks on it from Syrian soil, but stopped short of confirming responsibility for the strike that killed him, Reuters reported.

Ansari said the assassination of Qantar has two important aspects as a "symbol of resistance" against Israeli occupation.

"The first aspect is that the Zionist regime has violated the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, which is an independent government and a member of the United Nations," he said, lamenting that such violations by Israel have become a common occurrence in recent years.

"The second aspect is that assassination has become an organized and established measure of the Israeli system."

Hezbollah said Qantar was "martyred" in an Israeli raid on the residential district of Jaramana near the Syrian capital Damascus.

Jailed in Israel for years, Qantar was repatriated to Lebanon in 2008 in a prisoner swap with Hezbollah, which he is then believed to have joined.