BAGHDAD (Dispatches) --
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein says Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) has urged senior Iraqi authorities to arrange a face-to-face meeting between the top diplomats of Riyadh and Tehran.
“Muhammad bin Salman has demanded senior Iraqi officials set up the meeting between Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart Hussein Amir-Abdollahian. We are busy organizing the event, and the timing will be announced later on,” Hussein told Iraq’s Kurdish-language Rudaw television news network.
The Iraqi foreign minister noted that Saudi and Iranian delegates have already held five rounds of security-level meetings in Baghdad.
The confidential negotiations will be publicized through Iraq’s mediation, and Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers will meet in public, Hussein explained.
Earlier this month, the Saudi foreign minister said Riyadh was trying to find a path to dialog with Tehran as the best way to resolve differences.
Speaking at a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 17, the chief Saudi diplomat said a decision by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states to focus on their economies and development was a “strong signal to Iran and others in the region that there is a pathway beyond traditional arguments and disputes toward joint prosperity.”
“I think the more we can build a sense of cooperation in the region and the more we can work together, the more we can deliver not just prosperity for our people, but also for our immediate region and beyond,” he said.
Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr by the Saudi government, 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 had close ties.
Saudi Arabia appears to have recently changed its antagonistic course, showing willingness through diplomatic channels and third parties to mend fences with Tehran and resume bilateral relations.
The two neighbors remain deeply divided over a set of regional issues, mainly the destructive and protracted Saudi war on Yemen.