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News ID: 90108
Publish Date : 10 May 2021 - 21:37
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TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran’s foreign ministry said Monday it "strongly condemns” a raid on Tehran’s consulate in the Iraqi city of Karbala.
Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters that Iran late Sunday handed over a "letter of protest” to the Iraqi embassy in Tehran and urged the neighboring Arab nations to pursue the case under international conventions.
"Iran strongly condemns attacks on its diplomatic sites in Iraq,” said Khatibzadeh in a weekly briefing in Tehran.
A day earlier, Iraqi protesters reportedly set fire to trailers belonging to Iran’s consulate in Karbala after the killing of Ehab Wazni, an activist who took part in anti-government protests that swept Iraq in October 2019.
He was shot overnight Saturday outside his home by unknown assailants.
Wazni’s death sparked daylong protests in Karbala, with demonstrators blocking roads and bridges with burning tires. On Sunday night, dozens of protesters gathered outside the Iranian consulate, burning tires in front of the building and setting fire to several trailers parked outside.
Iran and Iraq have had close relations since the toppling of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who waged an eight-year war against Iran in 1980.
The remarks came as Khatibzadeh on Monday for the first-time confirmed that a recent talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia hosted by Iraq, the first public recognition of Baghdad’s role as mediator.
The talks with Saudi Arabia have focused on "both bilateral and regional” issues, said Khatibzadeh. "We have always welcomed these talks at any level and in any form.”
Khatibzadeh did not elaborate on details but said, "We should always welcome removal of antagonism. We hope to reach a meaningful understanding on both bilateral relations and regional issues.”
On Wednesday, Iraq’s President Barham Salih said his country recently hosted direct talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran on more than one occasion.
Salih said during an interview broadcast live by the Beirut Institute, a think tank, that the first round of talks between Riyadh and Tehran took place early last month. He said talks have since occurred "more than once,” describing the discussions as ongoing, "important and significant.”
Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia worsened considerably in 2016, when Riyadh removed its diplomats after angry protesters gathered outside its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad following the kingdom’s execution of  prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
In recent months, observers have noted

 the change in Riyadh’s tone toward Tehran, saying Saudi Arabia’s failed war on Yemen, as well as former U.S. president Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, are among the reasons behind Riyadh’s new approach toward Tehran.
While Trump withdrew from the 2015 JCPOA – a nuclear deal with Iran that the Saudis strongly disfavored, his successor Joe Biden has promised to rejoin the JCPOA and reverse Trump’s "maximum pressure” policy on Iran that the Saudis strongly supported.
Late last month, in the midst of ongoing negotiations in Vienna to bring the U.S. back into compliance with the JCPOA, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS), said he was seeking to have "good relations” with Iran.
"Iran is a neighboring state, we are seeking to have good relations with Iran, we have interests in Iran,” MBS said in an interview broadcast on Saudi state TV on April 27.
Khatibzadeh has already reacted positively to the remarks and welcomed bilateral efforts to ensure regional peace and stability.
Asked on Monday whether Tehran believes Saudi Arabia is sincere in its new Iran approach, Khatibzadeh said verifiable deeds, rather than reading the other side’s mind and intention, is what matters in international relations.
"De-escalating the relations between the two great Islamic countries in the Persian Gulf is definitely in the interest of the two nations and the region,” he said.


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