Saudi Dialogue Benefits Region

Saudi Dialogue  Benefits RegionSaudi Dialogue  Benefits Region

The deputy foreign minister says dialogue between Tehran and Riyadh could benefit the two neighbors as well as the whole region.

“We believe it is possible to expand the level of talks between Tehran and Riyadh to the benefit of both countries and the entire region,” Majid Takht-Ravanchi said on Saturday in an interview with the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel.

In August, Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited Saudi Arabia as part of Tehran’s efforts to mend ties with the kingdom. A month later Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers held a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in which both sides described their discussions as positive and a “new page” in bilateral ties between Tehran and Riyadh.                 

However, at a joint news conference with his German counterpart on October 13 in Jeddah, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal went so far as to ignore basic diplomatic courtesy and accused Iran of interfering in the affairs of other countries including Syria, Iraq and Yemen by saying, “Iranian forces in Syria are occupying forces.”   

Ravanchi also referred to the issue of the so-called Islamic States (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria and said, “Iran has its own ideas regarding how to deal with the IS and we are ready to cooperate with the international community in that respect… what is important is to understand this group poses a risk to all of us, Europe, the US as well as other countries.”

  Nothing to Hide  

The diplomat touched on Iran’s talks with the major powers and the November 24 target date to reach a settlement on the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.

He said Iran has not come to the negotiating table under pressure from international sanctions but it wants to “prove to the international community that (Iran) has nothing to hide.”

Ravanchi added that if the two sides fail to clinch an agreement by November 24, “at least neutral observers will not blame Iran for the breakdown of the negotiations.”

“In our opinion, Washington is not willing to simply recognize Iran’s advances in nuclear technology… today we have 20,000 centrifuges that only half of them are operating.”  

He also said they “cannot set the clock back and make the same demands as if it was the year 2005.”

“Iran wants to maintain the status quo. However, we are ready to limit our activities (only) for a short period of time… Nevertheless, we want after the expiry of that period the world deals with us like any other party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).”

NPT permits member states to enrich uranium to any level they need and places no restrictions on stockpiling enriched uranium.