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Iraq says preparing to host 'public' meeting between Iran, Saudi FMs

By AFP - Jul 24,2022 - Last updated at Jul 24,2022

BAGHDAD — Iraq said on Saturday it was preparing to host a "public" meeting of the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia as the two rivals seek to mend ties.

Since April last year, Iraq has hosted five rounds of talks between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shiite-majority Iran, which support opposing sides in various conflicts around the region.

Those encounters were held privately and at a low level, involving security and intelligence officials.

But on Saturday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said his Iranian and Saudi counterparts would be meeting in Iraq at an undisclosed date.

"I contacted the foreign minister of Iran about this," Hussein said in an interview with Kurdish television channel Rudaw.

"We are preparing the meeting, trying to find the best time to invite the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia," he said.

"It will be a public meeting, (unlike) previous encounters which were secret and were held between intelligence and security officials," Hussein added.

His comments came days after Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told Iranian state television that his country and Saudi Arabia are ready to move reconciliation talks to a higher level.

Amir Abdollahian said on Thursday that “progress” had been made at previous rounds of talks between security officials hosted by Iraq.

He added that last week Iran had received a message from the Iraqi foreign minister who said “the Saudi side is ready to move the talks to the political and public level”.

Riyadh severed ties with Tehran after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran in 2016.

Amir-Abdollahian said Thursday he hoped new negotiations will lead to the resumption of “normal diplomatic ties”.

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