Iran FM says held 'friendly' talks with Saudi counterpart

AFP , Wednesday 21 Dec 2022

Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday he held a 'friendly conversation' with his Saudi counterpart in Jordan, despite Tehran's repeated accusations that Riyadh has fanned months-long protests in the Islamic republic.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian
File Photo: Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian , August 31, 2022. AP


Jordan hosted the "Baghdad II" conference on Tuesday, bringing together key Middle East and international players, including rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, in a bid to defuse regional tensions.

"On the sidelines of the meeting, I had the opportunity for a friendly talk with some of my counterparts, including the foreign ministers of Oman, Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia," Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in an Arabic-language post.

"The Saudi minister assured me of his country's readiness to continue dialogue with Iran," he added.

Protests have rocked Iran since the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, after her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the Islamic republic's dress code for women.

Officials in the country say hundreds of people have been killed in the months-long street violence, including dozens of security force personnel, and thousands have been arrested.

Iran has accused its "enemies", led by the United States, of stoking the protests. 

In November, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani called on Saudi Arabia to change its "unfriendly" behaviour. Intelligence Minister Ismail Khatib warned Iran's neighbours, including Saudi Arabia, that it would retaliate against any move to destabilise the country.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in January 2016, after its embassy in Tehran and consulate in second city Mashhad were attacked by protesters following Riyadh's execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Since April 2021, Iraq has hosted a series of fence-mending meetings between the two countries' security officials.

The talks have stalled in recent months, and no meetings have been publicly announced since April 2022.

Shia-majority Iran and Sunni kingpin Saudi Arabia support rival sides in several conflicts around the region, notably in Yemen, where Riyadh has led a military intervention in support of the government while Iran supports Shia rebels who control the capital Sanaa and much of the north.

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