Beirut: Talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia are on a “good path,” Iran’s foreign minister said on Thursday, suggesting the negotiations between the two countries would continue.
Speaking during his first visit to Lebanon since taking his post after Iran’s presidential elections in June, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the Iranian side has proposed “new constructive ideas’’ in the last meeting with the Saudis, and that Iran was ready to return to normal diplomatic ties. He also said nuclear talks to revive Tehran’s now-tattered 2015 accord with world powers, stalled since June, will resume soon.
“Regarding Iranian-Saudi negotiations, a good path is being paved,’’ Amir-Abdollahian told reporters after meeting his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib. He did not elaborate.
Amir-Abdollahian was referring to multiple rounds of discussions in Baghdad since the first direct talks between regional foes Riyadh and Tehran took place in early April.
The latest round was held late last month, according to Iraqi officials, marking the first such meeting between the two sides since a new Iranian president was sworn in. Those at the meeting discussed “pending issues between the two countries according to a previously agreed on a roadmap, including diplomatic representation between the two countries,’’ according to one Iraqi official.
Earlier in the day, Amir-Abdollahian said after meeting Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri: “We have positively evaluated the continuation of Iranian-Saudi negotiations.’’
Relations worsened considerably in 2016, when Riyadh removed its diplomats after protesters attacked its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad in retaliation for the kingdom executing a prominent Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr.
Iran enjoys wide influence in Lebanon through the militant Hezbollah group, which is funded and armed by Tehran.
The Iranian minister also repeated often-heard rhetoric from Tehran, and in reference to US troops, said that Iran considers “the presence of foreign forces in the region as the main factor for instability and all problems.’’
Speaking about the stalled talks in Vienna over the nuclear deal, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran was “fully ready’’ to return to the agreement if others were “serious, frank and have real intention’’ to return as well — a reference to Washington. Former President Donald Trump pulled America out of the deal in 2018.
Amir-Abdollahian also added that Iran would return to the deal once all sanctions imposed on Iran are lifted.