Middle East

Iran says talks with Saudi Arabia to continue in Iraq

Tehran and Riyadh severed diplomatic ties in January 2016

Iran says talks with Saudi Arabia to continue in Iraq


Iran said Monday that Iraq-mediated talks with Saudi Arabia will continue, amid efforts to normalize relations between the two arch rivals.

"The next round of negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia is on the agenda,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a news briefing in Tehran.

“Iraq will host these meetings," he added.

Tehran and Riyadh severed diplomatic ties in January 2016 following an attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran after Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr was executed by Saudi authorities.

Relations between the two rivals deteriorated further after Iran in September 2016 accused Saudi authorities of deliberately causing the death of around 400 Iranian pilgrims in a 2015 stampede in the Muslim holy city of Mecca.

The two sides have since been engaged in a strong regional rivalry, often accusing each other of waging a proxy war for regional influence.

Vienna talks

Khatibzadeh said Saudi Arabia was among a number of countries that sent delegations to the Austrian capital Vienna to take part in bilateral meetings in line with their “national interests”.

The eighth round of marathon talks between Iran and the P4+1 (Russia, China, France, UK, and Germany) resumed late last year.

The talks are centered on Iran's key demand of lifting the sanctions imposed by the former US administration following its unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018.

Khatibzadeh, however, noted that Tehran is “not satisfied with the pace of the negotiations in Vienna."

The spokesman underlined that his country will not accept “any artificial deadlines”, blaming the opposing side in the talks of “killing a lot of time in the 7th round and then agreeing to negotiate on Iran's proposals."

*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar

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