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Saudi FM says Riyadh extends hand towards Iran for positive relationship, as Tehran warns of interference

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 Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan (Photo by Reuters)

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud says his country continues to extend its hand to Iran for a "positive relationship."

Prince Faisal made the remarks at a joint press conference with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Secretary General of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council Nayef Falah al-Hajraf on Saturday, following the China-Arab States Summit in Riyadh.

“Iran is part of the region and a neighbor, and Riyadh will continue to extend a hand in pursuit of a positive relationship that serves the stability of the region and the welfare of our people,” he said.

The two sides have already held several rounds of tension-easing negotiations in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad since last April.

In July, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian appreciated the “constructive” role played by Iraq in advancing the regional dialogue and said there has been “progress” in the last five rounds of talks with Saudi Arabia.

The progress of rapprochement was, however, overshadowed as Iran has warned Saudi Arabia that its media campaign aimed at stoking tensions in the recent riots in the country will backfire on the Riyadh regime.

On October 17, the chief commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Major General Hossein Salami gave Saudi Arabia an ultimatum, cautioning it against interfering in Iran’s internal affairs through the kingdom's news media outlets that seek to lead the Iranian youths astray.

He stressed the importance of maintaining national security as a principled policy of Iran and reminded the neighbors that the Islamic Republic pursues the policy of friendship and fraternity as long as the enemies hatch no plot against it.

Saudi-sponsored media have stepped up their rhetoric against Iran amid the recent protests and deadly riots in the country following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.

Iranians have held protests over the passing of Amini. However, some extremist elements derailed the protests and incited violence against security forces. Western-backed media outlets have also encouraged violence. Iran says it will not allow interference in its internal affairs.

The foreign-backed violent riots have also claimed dozens of lives from both security forces and ordinary people as the Western media and Persian-language news networks continue to provoke riots in Iran.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Prince Faisal reiterated the importance of boosting cooperation between the Arab countries and Beijing, noting that collaboration with a country like China would help face challenges

He also noted that Saudi Arabia is ready to cooperate with every country in the world, adding that Riyadh has strategic partnerships with the United States, India, China, Japan, and Germany.   

The top Saudi diplomat further said his country does not believe in choosing one partner over others, but stressed establishment of strong relations with China is Saudi Arabia's top priority and that cooperation with Beijing is necessary for the Saudi nations' economic growth and well-being.

China, the world's biggest energy consumer and the global economic powerhouse, is a major trade partner of Persian Gulf oil and gas producers. Growing relations between Beijing and Riyadh, a Persian Gulf energy giant, are increasingly raising Washington's concerns about expansion of Chinese involvement in sensitive infrastructure in the Persian Gulf region.

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