riyadh-2197496_960_720
Riyadh Image Credit: Agency

A Saudi foreign ministry official said on Friday that talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran aim to reduce regional tensions, but added it was too early to judge the outcome and Riyadh wanted to see “verifiable deeds”.

The comments by Ambassador Rayed Krimly, head of policy planning at the ministry, were the first public confirmation from Riyadh that the countries - who severed ties in 2016 - were holding direct talks.

“As to current Saudi-Iranian talks they aim to explore ways to reduce tensions in the region,” Krimly told Reuters.

“We hope they prove successful, but it is too early, and premature, to reach any definitive conclusions. Our evaluation will be based on verifiable deeds, and not proclamations.” He declined to provide details on the talks.

Iraq’s president said on Wednesday that Baghdad hosted more than one round of talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Krimly said Saudi policy had been explained “very clearly” by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who last month said that while the kingdom has a problem with Tehran’s “negative behaviour” it wanted good relations with Iran.

Krimly said recent media reports that the head of Saudi intelligence had held talks in Damascus were inaccurate.

He said Saudi policy towards Syria remained based on support for the Syrian people, for a political solution under a United Nations umbrella and in accordance with Security Council resolutions, and for the unity and Arab identity of Syria.