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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, upon his arrival in Jeddah, on June 25, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

RIYADH: Iraq’s prime minister met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, in the kingdom on Sunday as part of Baghdad’s efforts to mediate between Riyadh and Tehran.

Mustafa Al Kadhemi, who was in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, then visited Iran, with which Riyadh has had no diplomatic ties since 2016.

Crown Prince Mohammad and Al Kadhemi addressed “bilateral relations and opportunities for joint cooperation”, reported the official Saudi Press Agency.

“They exchanged points of view on a number of issues that would contribute to supporting and strengthening regional security and stability,” it added.

Iraq has over the past year hosted five rounds of talks between the Saudi Arabia and Iran, with the last session held in April.

Al Kadhemi said at the time he believed that “reconciliation is near” between Riyadh and Tehran, a further reflection of shifting political alignments across the region.

Roadmap for mending relations

On Saturday an Iraqi cabinet source said that Al Kadhemi’s trip to Saudi Arabia and Iran “comes in the context of talks that Riyadh and Tehran recently held in Baghdad”.

The source said those talks “represented a roadmap for mending relations and returning to the right course of strengthening bilateral relations” between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which support rival sides in conflict zones around the region.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have had no diplomatic ties for six years, since Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran after the kingdom executed Shiite cleric Nimr Al Nimr.

Riyadh responded by cutting relations with Tehran.

In early March, Crown Prince Mohammed said his country and Iran were “neighbours forever”, and that it was “better for both of us to work it out and to look for ways in which we can coexist”.

After his arrival in the kingdom, Al Kadhemi performed the minor pilgrimage, known as Umra, in the holy city of Mecca, according to pictures released by his office.

Later, Al Kadhimi arrived in Iran on Sunday on a visit aimed at reactivating Baghdad-mediated talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi officially received Al Kadhimi, who was slated to also meet with other officials in Tehran, according to the report. He was the first foreign leader to visit Iran after Raisi took power in August.

Al Kadhimi has stressed he wants balanced relations with the two neighbours. Improving relations with Saudi Arabia was a key policy of his administration when he took office.