Politics & News

Iran pushes to reopen diplomatic representations with Saudi Arabia

Iran has asked Saudi Arabia to “reopen consulates and establish diplomatic relations as a prelude to ending the war in Yemen, but the timing is the main sticking point in the Iraqi-mediated talks between the two regional rivals,” according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke to Bloomberg.

At a time when international powers are seeking to follow up on the negotiations to revive the Iranian nuclear agreement, the parties quietly conducted four rounds of talks to ease the tension that has existed for years. The focus was on Yemen, where the two countries support two competing parties.

The last round of Saudi-Iranian talks took place on September 21, and a new round is expected to be held soon.

In 2019, the Houthis targeted Saudi Aramco’s facilities in the Saudi province of Abqaiq, which disrupted at the time about half of the production capacity of that region in the world’s largest oil exporter, and this led to global market turmoil.

Iran has suggested reopening consulates in the cities of Mashhad and Jeddah as “a sign of goodwill,” according to two of the sources. Another said the talks “have made progress, but tend to falter when it comes to the details.”

The nuclear talks, which began in Vienna between international powers and Tehran, have faltered since the election of hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s president last June. But Raisi made more positive statements about his country’s communication with Saudi Arabia, saying that he was “keen to reopen embassies.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on October 8 that “several understandings were agreed upon by the parties” during the ongoing talks, but he did not provide any details. Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said earlier this month that the talks were still “in the exploratory stage”, although his country had hoped that the dialogue would “resolve the outstanding issues between the two countries.”

However, there is a risk that the talks will fall back, especially if the recent Iraqi parliamentary elections result in the replacement of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

The Iraqi Prime Minister (Al-Kadhimi), a former intelligence chief who has ties to security and political officials from both countries, is seen as a reliable mediator.

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