| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Iraqi PM arrives in Iran after Saudi visit to push for revival of Tehran-Riyadh talks

A day after visiting Saudi Arabia in an effort to resurrect negotiations between the regional adversaries to end years of antagonism, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi arrived in Iran on Sunday, according to Iranian official TV.

Leading Shi’ite and Sunni Muslim nations in the Middle East, Iran and Saudi Arabia, cut ties in 2016, supporting friends engaged in proxy conflicts in countries like Yemen, Syria, and other Middle Eastern countries.

“The Iraqi prime minister has arrived in Tehran with a high-ranking delegation of political and economic officials to discuss regional and bilateral issues,” Iran’s state TV said.

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia rose further in 2019 after an assault on Saudi oil plants that Riyadh blamed on Iran, a charge Tehran denies.

An Iranian official told Reuters that “the resumption of talks between Tehran and Riyadh will be discussed during Khadimi’s trip to Iran”.

The fifth round of talks were held in April, after Iran suspended the negotiations in March without giving a reason but the decision was made following Saudi Arabia’s execution of 81 men in its biggest mass execution in decades. Tehran condemned the executions that activists said included 41 Shi’ite Muslims.

On Saturday, Kadhimi held talks with Saudi de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah that the state news agency SPA said included bilateral relations and “boosting security and stability in the region”.

Kadhimi’s visit comes as a months-long impasse in the indirect talks between Tehran and Washington is expected to break in the coming days to secure a 2015 nuclear pact which curbed Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to visit Riyadh in mid-July and talks are expected to include Gulf security concerns over Iran’s ballistic missiles programme and network of proxies across the Middle East.

  • Reuters