Tehran-Riyadh Detente Not Hinged on Mediators

Tehran-Riyadh Detente Not Hinged on Mediators Tehran-Riyadh Detente Not Hinged on Mediators

A lawmaker said Tehran welcomes efforts by various countries, particularly China, to mediate in the row between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but the settlement of disputes between the two regional giants does not depend on mediators.

"If Saudi Arabia has no bad intentions, Iran can enter into direct talks with Saudis [over regional conflicts], just like our ongoing talks on sending pilgrims for this years' hajj," Asghar Salimi also told ICANA on Saturday.

Salimi said differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia are merely political, as Saudis see Iran as a rival and try to undermine its influence in the region.

The legislator said even if there was a need for mediators, neighbors such as Kuwait and Oman could be better than China.

"Considering that we are Muslims and have shared interests in West Asia and the Muslim world, it would be better if we solve our problems ourselves," he said.

Iran did not participate in the 2016 hajj, as its talks with Saudis to settle differences over various issues pertaining to the hajj failed. During the hajj in 2015, a stampede in Mina, near Saudi Arabia's Mecca, left 464 Iranians dead. With the hajj approaching in late August, Saudi and Iranian officials have once again entered into talks over the pilgrimage.

Besides the Mina incident, relations between Tehran and Riyadh have been strained in recent years over various conflicts in West Asia, particularly those in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016, using as excuse attacks on its diplomatic premises in Tehran angered by Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr without due process of law.

This is while Iranian officials condemned the attack and prosecuted perpetrators. Since then, various countries have offered to mediate between the two, the latest of which is China.

Last Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hoped for the resolution of problems facing Iran and Saudi Arabia, saying Beijing is ready to help eliminate the differences.

"China is friends with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. If there is a need, China is willing to play our necessary role."

The kingdom, however, reacted negatively and rejected the proposal.

Saudi Ambassador to China Turki bin Mohamad al-Madi told Xinhua on Thursday that Riyadh welcomes China's preparedness to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran to end their dispute, however, Iran is a "hopeless case".

He said Saudi Arabia cannot deal with Iran on any basis or under any mediation, adding "any state seeks to be on good terms with its neighbors, but Iran is a hopeless case".

In response, the Iranian Embassy said Tehran, unlike Riyadh, welcomes all "constructive efforts", making a reference to Iran's positive response to a recent proposal by Kuwait on behalf of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council for dialogue and compromise among regional nations.

In response to the Kuwait message, President Hassan Rouhani visited Oman and Kuwait in February.

In a related development, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif paid a visit to Qatar on March 8.


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