TEHRAN -- Talks between Tehran and Riyadh have led to “serious progress” on the issue of Persian Gulf security, an Iranian foreign ministry official said Thursday.
“Serious progress has been made on the subject of security in the Persian Gulf,” official news agency IRNA quoted ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh as saying in New York.
Iran and Saudi Arabia, on opposing sides in multiple regional conflicts, have been engaged in talks since April with the aim of improving relations, for the first time since cutting ties in 2016.
The discussions were launched under Iran’s former president Hassan Rouhani and have continued since his successor, Ebrahim Raisi, took office in August.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Khatibzadeh said the talks were “good” and called for countries to settle regional issues between themselves, without foreign interference.
Saudi King Salman on Wednesday expressed hope that talks with Iran would “lead to tangible outcomes to build trust” and to the relaunch bilateral “cooperation”.
“Iran is a neighboring country, and we hope that our initial talks with it will lead to concrete results to build confidence ... based on... respect of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs,” he said in a pre-recorded video address to the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Iranian and Saudi delegations have so far held three rounds of talks in Baghdad. A fourth round has been postponed to a time convenient to both sides.
Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, stormed its embassy in Tehran.
For years, the kingdom pursued a confrontational foreign policy toward the Islamic Republic, but it recently appeared to have changed track.
Khatibzadeh said, “We think we can have a stable and good relationship between the two important countries in the region if the government of the Saudi Kingdom pays serious attention to a message from the Islamic Republic of Iran, which says the solution to the problems in the region lies within the region itself and we must reach a comprehensive regional mechanism.”