Iran, Saudi Hold New Round of Talks in Iraq

Two rival nations, Saudi Arabia and Iran, have met again in Iraq, local sources said Wednesday, while talks aimed at easing tensions have continued under Iran’s ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iran and Saudi Arabia, who are at loggerheads in various Middle East conflicts, have been in high-level talks since April after breaking ties in 2016.

The talks, organized by Iraq seeking to act as a regional mediator, were launched under Iran’s former moderate president Hassan Rouhani, who in August was replaced by Raisi.

The talks have made “serious progress” on Gulf security, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Sept. 23.

The latest round of talks was confirmed by three Iraqi sources, all speaking on condition of anonymity.

“An Iranian official met with a Saudi official in Baghdad, after a previous meeting between the two countries,” a source told AFP. He allowed the talks to take place in the last few days.

A government official and a source close to the government confirmed the meeting, without providing further details.

Saudi Arabia, America’s ally, and Iran’s arch-enemy, are at loggerheads on many regional issues, including the wars in Yemen and Syria.

Riyadh also has concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, although the Islamic republic insists it is only pursuing “peaceful” nuclear technology.

In a recent speech via videoconference to the UN General Assembly, Saudi King Salman said “we hope our talks will lead to tangible results that will build trust” and revive bilateral “cooperation”. [lt/uh]

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