News ID: 279811
Published: 0337 GMT January 23, 2021

Saudi FM says ‘hands outstretched’ to Iran after Tehran’s offer of friendship

Saudi FM says ‘hands outstretched’ to Iran after Tehran’s offer of friendship

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said Riyadh stands ready for rapprochement with Iran, but claimed that the Islamic Republic does not commit itself to de-escalating tensions.

“Our hands are outstretched for peace with Iran, but it does not commit itself to agreements,” Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told Al Arabiya TV channel.

He alleged that Tehran is “not serious about talks with Riyadh".

The remarks came two days after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif welcomed his Qatari counterpart’s call for the Persian Gulf Arab countries to hold talks with Iran, saying Tehran has long demanded neighborly cooperation toward establishing a strong Middle East, Press TV wrote on Saturday.

Zarif stressed that Iran has always extended a hand of friendship to the Persian Gulf Arab nations.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in January 2016 following the storming of its embassy in Tehran during protests over Riyadh’s execution of a Shia cleric.

Tehran has on many occasions announced its readiness to hold talks with its neighbors directly. It has already put forward an initiative called the Hormuz Peace Endeavour (HOPE) to promote security in the Persian Gulf and facilitate such neighborly negotiations.

Prince Faisal claimed that Iran's "calls for dialogue are meant to divert attention away from its own crises".

Saudi Arabia acted as one of the main forces behind the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, after which Washington returned its sanctions against Tehran.


‘Weak’ nuclear deal

Commenting on the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the top Saudi diplomat claimed that new US President Joe Biden had pledged to include Persian Gulf allies and Israel in any future talks that focused on Iran's nuclear program as well as its missiles and regional role.

The JCPOA was “weak” because there was a lack of coordination with the countries in the region, Prince Faisal said.

“We will consult with the US regarding the agreement so that it will be a strong basis,” he added. “The European countries understand that the previous agreement with Tehran has flaws.”

Iran has dismissed negotiating the nuclear deal with the regional countries. Tehran has also rejected any renegotiation of the JCPOA, saying the US must lift the sanctions before returning to the nuclear deal.


Yemen war

The top Saudi diplomat also indicated his country's readiness to reach a political solution to Yemen’s war, but threw the ball in Houthis' court.

“The Houthis will facilitate reaching a solution if they decide that the interest of Yemen is the most important,” Prince Faisal said. 

The remarks come as Yemeni forces, including Houthi fighters, are going from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders.

Riyadh is additionally worried by the exit of the Trump administration which was a staunch supporter of the kingdom and its war on Yemen.

Biden pledged in his campaign to reassess ties with the kingdom, demanding more accountability over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul Consulate and calling for an end to US support for the Yemen war.

The Saudi foreign minister, nevertheless, voiced optimism that relations with the United States would be “excellent” under Biden.

“The Biden administration will see that we have common goals with regards to the situation in Yemen,” he said.


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