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Iran-Saudi cooperation will benefit region, Muslim world, says official

The flags of Iran (R) and Saudi Arabia flutter in the air in this file photo.

The assistant to Iran’s foreign minister and director general for the Persian Gulf affairs of the Foreign Ministry has expressed the country’s intention to cooperate at a maximum level with all its neighbors, saying Tehran-Riyadh ties will be in the interests of the entire region and the Muslim world.

“We think that the cooperation between Iran and Saudi Arabia as two Muslim countries will benefit the issues of the Muslim world as well as the region and enhance regional cooperation,” Alireza Enayati said in an interview with Etemad newspaper published on Saturday.

Iranian and Saudi delegations have so far held three rounds of talks in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, he said.

The fourth round, he added, was postponed to a time convenient to both sides because a new government is taking office in Iran and the annual Hajj is around the corner in Saudi Arabia.

“On the Iranian side, the negotiations were a fundamental decision by the establishment. The establishment and the government decided to hold these talks with the Saudi side,” Enayati said.

He stressed that Iran and Saudi Arabia do not need a mediator in their dialog, which includes bilateral, regional and transregional issues.

“If bilateral bonds between Iran and Saudi Arabia enter a new phase, it will definitely pave the way for regional talks and cooperation and improve the positions of both states in the region,” he said.

Saudi Arabia has taken a new approach to the region and its dealing with the regional issues, the official said, adding he has the impression that Riyadh is serious about dialog with Tehran.

“Iran's ideas are based on cooperating with the regional countries. It believes that if there is a problem, misunderstanding or question mark somewhere, dialog is the best and perhaps the only way to advance interests,” he said.

“Iran’s hand of friendship is extended to all countries of the region without exception. Everyone who has grabbed this hand has seen useful and effective steps taken by Iran.”

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, stormed its embassy in Tehran. Since then, Saudi Arabia has taken a tough tone on Iran and strongly supported the US “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic.

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