TEHRAN -- Iranian Foreign
Minister Hussein Amir-Abdollahian says his ministry is working diligently to secure the release of an Iranian citizen detained in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj pilgrimage, expressing hope that the issue will be resolved through cooperation of Saudi officials.
During a meeting here Thursday evening, Amir-Abdollahian briefed the father of detained Iranian national Khalil Dardmand on measures taken by his ministry since he was arrested by Saudi forces in the holy city of Mecca last month.
The top Iranian diplomat expressed hope that Dardmand will be repatriated to Iran with the assistance of Saudi authorities.
Earlier this month, Amir-Abdollahian demanded the release of the Iranian citizen over the phone with his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein.
During the conversation, the Iranian foreign minister urged Hussein to follow up on the case of Dardmand and asked him to convey a message for his release, as Iraq has hosted several rounds of talks in Baghdad between representatives from Iran and Saudi Arabia as part of diplomatic rapprochement.
Last month, the top Iran diplomat appreciated the “constructive” role of Iraq in advancing regional dialogue and said there has been “progress” in the last five rounds of talks with Saudi Arabia.
Amir-Abdollahian said he had told Iraqi mediators that Tehran was ready for a new political and security phase with Riyadh, expressing hope that the measure would “eventually lead to normalization between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, stormed its embassy in Tehran.
The kingdom then pursued a confrontational foreign policy toward the Islamic Republic, especially during the administration of former U.S. president Donald Trump, with whom the Saudi rulers shared close ties.
Saudi Arabia has recently shown willingness through diplomatic channels and third parties to mend fences with Tehran and resume bilateral relations.
The two neighbors also remain deeply divided over a set of regional issues, mainly the Saudi war on Yemen.