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Iran hails talks with Saudis, says neither side sets preconditions

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh

Iran says no precondition has been imposed by either side in talks between Tehran and Riyadh intended to mend bilateral ties severed in 2016.

“There are no preconditions from either side, and we are trying to start a sustainable relationship within the mutually beneficial framework,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said during a press conference in Tehran on Monday.

According to Khatibzadeh, the negotiations hosted by Baghdad since April, are being pursued in the best possible shape over bilateral and regional issues.

However, he did not confirm reports that Saudi Arabia has sent a delegation to Iran to open the country’s embassy in Tehran.

“The talks are still underway in Baghdad, and different cases have been discussed, with the main focus being on bilateral talks, while issues of mutual interest concerning the region have also been debated,” he added.

Iraq has hosted several rounds of direct talks between Iranian and Saudi delegations with the aim of reviving relations severed five years ago over a host of issues.

The negotiations were launched under Iran’s former President Hassan Rouhani, who was replaced in August by Ebrahim Raeisi.

Khatibzadeh’s remarks came a day after Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said “the fourth round of talks took place on September 21.”

“These discussions are still in the exploratory phase, and we hope that they lay the foundation to address issues between the two sides,” he said in Riyadh during a joint news conference with the European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell.

However, he did not disclose the location of the fourth round.

Last month, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud expressed hope that Riyadh's direct dialog with Tehran will lead to confidence building.

“Iran is a neighboring country, and we hope that our initial talks with it will lead to concrete results to build confidence ... based on... respect of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs,” he said in an address to the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Back in August, Iraq also hosted the Baghdad International Conference for Cooperation and Participation aimed at easing tensions in the region.

The Baghdad conference brought Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, among other countries, together to discuss a number of issues, including the war in Yemen, the severe economic and political situation in Lebanon, and Tehran-Riyadh rapprochement. 

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