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Saudi FM says 'some but not enough' progress made in Iran talks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud says there has been "some but not enough" progress in talks with Iran, and that Riyadh's hands remain outstretched to Tehran.

"We have made some progress but not enough. Our hands are stretched out," Prince Faisal told a World Economic Forum panel on Tuesday.

"We continue to encourage our neighbors in Iran to lean into what can be a very, very important sea change in our region," he said.

The top Saudi diplomat said a "new era of cooperation" could deliver benefits for all.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, stormed its embassy in Tehran.

In the years that ensued, the kingdom pursued a confrontational foreign policy toward the Islamic Republic, but it appears that it has recently changed tack.

The two sides have so far held fifth rounds of talks, brokered by Iraq, aimed at fixing their troubled ties.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh late in April confirmed that Tehran held a fifth round of "positive" talks with Riyadh in Baghdad on normalizing bilateral relations.

Both Tehran and Riyadh have hinted that some progress has been made in their recent rounds of negotiations.

The two neighbors, however, remain deeply divided over a set of regional issues, mainly the destructive Saudi-led war on Yemen.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in March that Tehran welcomes Saudi Arabia’s “new inclination” to fix mutual relations, and that managing the differences between the two sides will benefit both nations as well as other friendly states.

Elsewhere, Prince Faisal pointed to the talks between Iran and the P4+1 group of countries in the Austrian capital of Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and said a possible final agreement will "be potentially a good thing if it's a good deal."

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