Thaw in Sight? Iran, Saudi Arabia Reportedly in Direct Talks to Mend Frayed Ties

Riyadh broke off diplomatic relations with Tehran in 2016 after its diplomatic facilities were attacked by Iranians protesting against the execution of a famous Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia.

Senior Saudi and Iranian officials are in direct talks to resuscitate relations between Riyadh and Tehran, the UK newspaper Financial Times (FT) has cited unnamed sources as saying.

According to FT, the talks are seen as “the first significant political discussions between the two nations” since the 2016 break-up of bilateral ties, and they come amid US President Joe Biden’s efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The sources claimed the first round of the negotiations was held in a “positive” atmosphere in Baghdad on 9 April, with a new round slated for next week. Neither Saudi nor Iranian authorities have commented on the issue yet.

The claims came after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed in October 2019 that Tehran has always been ready to hold direct talks with Saudi Arabia or negotiate through intermediaries.

Iran-Saudi Arabia Relations

Ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two influential regional powers, remain frozen, with Riyadh repeatedly accusing Tehran of trying to influence the policies of other Middle Eastern states and of supporting groups considered to be terrorist organisations by the kingdom. The feud has also been exacerbated by the two’s religious differences, given that Iran…

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