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Saudis' destructive policies harming region, kingdom itself: Iran’s FM

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Photo by AFP)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Saudi Arabia's policies have harmed not only the region but also the kingdom itself.

“Iran has always been seeking good ties with its neighbors, but we believe the Saudi policies in the region have been destructive and even harmed the country itself,” Zarif said in an interview with ISNA published on Wednesday.

He said that Iran seeks a “secure, powerful and convergent region... in line with the interests of the country as well as those of the region," adding that this framework has defined the Islamic Republic’s policies vis-à-vis interaction with regional states, including Saudi Arabia.

On the contrary, Saudi Arabia has been seeking to create tensions in the region to fulfill its own interests, the Iranian minister added.

If Riyadh revises its policies in the region, Zarif said, it will see a “positive” reaction from Tehran.

“We believe that Saudi Arabia needs to revise and reconsider some of its policies, and doing so will be in line with the country’s national interests,” the top Iranian diplomat said. “If this reconsideration happens, it (Saudi Arabia) will surely elicit a positive reaction from Iran.”

Zarif referred to Yemen as one of the areas where Saudi Arabia needed to change its policies nearly two-and-a-half years after it launched its deadly military aggression against the impoverished country.

Not only has Riyadh failed to reap any benefits from the military aggression but the war has also hurt the kingdom, the Iranian foreign minister added.

Zarif also expressed hope that the officials in Saudi Arabia would adopt “rational” policies towards Syria and Bahrain.

Iran, Saudi Arabia to exchange diplomatic visits

Meanwhile, Zarif said Iran and Saudi Arabia would likely exchange diplomatic visits after the Hajj rituals.

"Visas have been issued for both sides to make this visit. We are waiting for the final measures to be completed so that diplomats from the two countries can visit their embassies and consulates, and this will likely take place after Hajj,” which will end in the first week of September.

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia first soured after a deadly human crush during Hajj rituals in Mina, near Mecca, in September 2015, when hundreds of Iranian pilgrims among others lost their lives.

Tensions between the two countries further escalated when the kingdom executed a prominent Shia cleric in January 2016.

Riyadh cut off ties with Tehran last January following protests in front of its diplomatic premises in the cities of Tehran and Mashhad against the execution.

Iran ‘concerned’ about Persian Gulf row

Elsewhere in his remarks, Zarif expressed Iran’s concern about tensions between Qatar and other Persian Gulf Arab countries.

“Despite our disagreement with both sides, we have asked them to resolve their disputes through dialogue and negotiations,” Zarif said, underlining the need for “good relations” between the countries of the region.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar in early June, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism. Doha has rejected the claim.

They issued a 13-point list of demands for Qatar to end the diplomatic standoff, which Doha did not accept.

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