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Saudi Arabia seeking ‘good relations’ with Iran: MBS

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a virtual G-20 summit held over video conferencing, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on November 22, 2020. (Photo by AP)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says Riyadh is seeking to have “good relations” with Iran, adding, however, that the rapprochement is hindered by some differences. 

Bin Salman said in an interview broadcast on state TV on Tuesday that the kingdom was not interested in perpetual hostility with Iran but any thawing of relations would be conditional.

"Iran is a neighboring state, we are seeking to have good relations with Iran, we have interests in Iran,” The Saudi crown prince said. “We are working with our partners in the region to overcome our differences with Iran especially with its support for militias and the development of its nuclear program."

Tehran has on many occasions announced its readiness to hold talks with its neighbors directly. It has already put forward an initiative called the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) to promote security in the Persian Gulf and facilitate such neighborly negotiations.

Iran has repeatedly underlined that Tehran welcomes negotiations with Saudi Arabia once it realized “genuine change of approach” by Riyadh and the abandonment of the kingdom’s aggressive foreign policy toward the Islamic Republic.

Regional powerhouse Iran’s steady growth and burgeoning regional influence has hardly sat well with the Saudi kingdom over the past years. Riyadh cut its diplomatic ties with Tehran in early 2016 after its execution of senior Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr prompted angry protests in front of Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran.

Moreover, Bin Salman’s designation in 2017 as the next in line to assume Saudi kingship was followed by an exponential increase in Riyadh’s animosity towards Tehran.

Under Bin Salman, the kingdom along with the Israeli regime put pressure on the administration of former US President Donald Trump to withdraw from a historic nuclear deal with Iran, which Washington did in May 2018 and restored its draconian sanctions against Tehran.

Observers say the Saudi royal's demonization of Iran is an attempt to deflect attention from his own grave human rights violations, characterized by a deadly war on Yemen since 2015, the assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and an ongoing crackdown against the kingdom’s Shia minority and oppositionists.

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