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Iran-S. Arabia talks resume in Iraq

Riyadh cut ties with Tehran in 2016

By AFP - Apr 23,2022 - Last updated at Apr 23,2022

BAGHDAD — Regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia have resumed key talks in the Iraqi capital Baghdad after negotiations were suspended last month, a senior Iraqi official said on Saturday.

"Talks resumed last Thursday in Baghdad," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, and without giving further details.

Iran's Nour news agency confirmed a meeting attended by "senior officials from the secretariat of Iran's Supreme National Security Council and the head of the Saudi intelligence service".

Iran and Saudi Arabia support rival sides in several conflict zones across the region, including in Yemen, where the Houthi rebels are backed by Tehran, and Riyadh leads a military coalition supporting the government.

In 2016, Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran after the kingdom executed revered Shiite cleric Nimr Al Nimr.

Riyadh responded by cutting ties with Tehran.

The talks in Iraq, which borders both Iran and Saudi Arabia, are the fifth round of meetings in the country in the past year between Tehran and Riyadh aimed at restoring ties.

"It is expected that a joint meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries will be held in the near future," Nour said, describing what it called the "positive atmosphere of the recent meeting, which raised the hopes of a resumption of bilateral relations".

In March, Iranian media reported that Tehran had suspended participation in talks after Saudi Arabia announced it had executed in just one day a record 81 people convicted of various crimes related to "terrorism", including men linked to Yemen's Houthi rebels.

But in early March, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said his country and Iran were "neighbours forever", and that it was "better for both of us to work it out and to look for ways in which we can coexist".

The comments were welcomed by Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

"We have different views and approaches on some issues in the region, but the management of differences by the sides can serve the interests of the two nations," Amir-Abdollahian said at the time.

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