Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has sought a rapprochement with traditional rival Iran, saying he wants good relations with Tehran, while sources say the two countries have held secret talks in Baghdad.
“Iran is a neighbouring country and we all want good and special relations with Iran,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a TV interview.
It should be noted that both countries were scared of supremacy in the region and the Saudi diplomatic mission in Iran was attacked in 2016 after a scholar was executed in Saudi Arabia.
Muhammad bin Salman said, “We do not want the situation in Iran to deteriorate, but we want Iran to move forward, to lead the region and the world towards stability.”
He said Riyadh was working with regional and international allies to find a solution to Tehran’s “negative attitude.”
According to the report, the Saudi Crown Prince’s tone was more conciliatory than in previous interviews because he had previously accused Iran of destabilizing the region.
Muhammad bin Salman did not elaborate on the talks with Iran.
The Financial Times reported that talks were held in Baghdad on April 9 under the auspices of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, which was secret until the report.
An Iraqi government official confirmed the talks to Agence France-Presse (AFP), while Western diplomats said they had already been briefed on better relations and mediation to reduce tensions.
Saudi Arabia denied the talks through state media, while Tehran remained silent, but said talks with Saudi Arabia would always be welcomed.
The move comes at a time when US President Joe Biden is shifting the balance of power in the region and signalling the resumption of the 2015 nuclear deal scrapped by Donald Trump.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are fierce rivals in a number of conflicts in the region, from Syria to Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is fighting allied forces against the Houthi rebels.
Iran supports Houthi rebels who have been fighting Saudi Arabia and its allies since 2015.
Houthi rebels also launched missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, including attacks on oil installations.
In the interview, Mohammad bin Salman also demanded a ceasefire and resumption of talks with the insurgents.