BAGHDAD (Dispatches) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif has reirerated his calls for dialogue with Saudi Arabia, stressing that the Middle East does not need "strong countries” or "strong men” but rather strong cooperation between all sides.
"We have had enough strong men, we need a strong region. I do not think we are here to take action against any country or to secure intervention on behalf of Iran in any country, our positions are very clear, we call for dialogue,” he said during an interview with the BBC.
Zarif added that Iran "has no reason to fight with any of the neighboring countries, including Saudi Arabia,” explaining that his country did not try to exclude Saudi Arabia from the regional arena, but it was the kingdom that "tried to exclude Iran”.
He stressed that his country is ready to cooperate with Saudi Arabia, however, he noted that the current leadership in the kingdom believes that its interests and future lie in the ongoing tension with Iran.
"We believe that Saudi Arabia’s security is strongly linked to our security and Saudi Arabia must also be convinced that Iran’s security means the kingdom’s security,” he added.
Zarif said in an earlier interview with Iraqi Al-Furat TV channel in Baghdad that he had sent several letters to Saudi officials in which he expressed Tehran’s readiness for bilateral and regional cooperation, however "the Saudi side has replied that the region does not interest you”.
The Iranian foreign minister also stressed that the United States cannot "stop” Iran and Iraq’s mutual relations, reminding that Baghdad has established the ties of its own accord.
"We have good relations with Iraq. Iraq is our neighbor,” he said, adding that even former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1980-88 war on Iran did not separate the two nations.
"We have never asked the Iraqis to choose us,” he said. "It is the United States, which is pressuring Iraqis to choose (between Iran and the U.S.),” Zarif told BBC, stressing that Tehran is not after competing with Washington in Iraq either.