Iran’s foreign minister on March 5 appeared to welcome recent comments by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince about relations between the two regional rivals as a sign of Riyadh’s “desire” to restore severed ties.
“The recent remarks of a high-ranking Saudi official show their desire to establish bilateral relations with Iran, and we welcome that,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told state news agency IRNA.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told The Atlantic in an interview published on March 3 that his country and Iran were “neighbours forever”.
“We cannot get rid of them, and they can’t get rid of us,” he said, according to a transcript issued by the official Saudi Press Agency.
“So it’s better for both of us to work it out and to look for ways in which we can coexist,” he added, expressing hope that “we can reach a position that’s good for both countries”.
In 2016, protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran after the kingdom executed revered Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Riyadh responded at the time by cutting ties with Tehran.
The two rivals have held four rounds of talks in Iraq since April aimed at improving relations.
“These talks created a good atmosphere and brought results, albeit small ones, and we are pleased that Saudi Arabia has taken the path of dialogue,” Iran’s top diplomat said.
“We have different views and approaches on some issues in the region, but the management of differences by the sides can serve the interests of the two nations,” he added.
Shiite-majority Iran and the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia support rival sides in several conflict zones across the region, including in Syria and Yemen.
Amir-Abdollahian said a solution to the seven-year-old Yemen war was “political and based on Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue, away from foreign interference”.