News / Middle East

Iranian Minister: Saudi Talks 'Constructive'

Wreckage of a car belonging to Islamic State militants lies along a road after it was targeted by a U.S. air strike at the entrance to the Mosul Dam, northern Iraq, Aug. 21, 2014.
Wreckage of a car belonging to Islamic State militants lies along a road after it was targeted by a U.S. air strike at the entrance to the Mosul Dam, northern Iraq, Aug. 21, 2014.

Iran's deputy foreign minister said he held "positive and constructive" talks with Saudi Arabia's foreign minister on Tuesday where Islamist militancy in Iraq — which both countries view as a threat — was one of the topics discussed.

Hossein Amir Abdollahian was in Jeddah for the first high-level bilateral talks between the two countries since Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran a year ago, pledging to thaw Tehran's frosty relations with its Arab neighbors.

"Both sides emphasized the need to open a new page of political relations between the two countries," Abdollahian told Reuters by telephone after meeting Prince Saud al-Faisal.

The two men discussed issues of regional security such as the rise of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Israeli attacks on Gaza, Abdollahian said, adding: "The meeting took place in a very positive and constructive atmosphere."

Official Saudi media did not initially report on Abdollahian's arrival, a sign of the sensitivity of relations between two of the Middle East's big powers which are separated by the Gulf and a religious divide, with Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia often at odds with Shi'ite Iran.

But state news agency SPA later did report the talks, saying the men "reviewed bilateral relations between the two countries and discussed a number of regional and international issues of common interest."

Saudi Arabia and Iran back opposing sides in wars and political struggles in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Bahrain, usually along sectarian lines, and vie for influence across the Middle East.

However, both Tehran and Riyadh were aghast at the rapid advances made by Islamic State in June and July and welcomed the departure of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki this month.

Maliki was a close political ally of Iran but Tehran came to see him as a liability after many Sunni Iraqis, who felt sidelined or persecuted by the Shi'ite prime minister, sided with Islamic State.

Maliki was seen in Riyadh as being too close to Iran, and King Abdullah believed he had failed to fulfil promises to rein in the power of Shi'ite militias that targeted Sunnis.

Saudi Arabia remains wary of the incoming Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, who is from the same political bloc as Maliki, analysts in the kingdom say, and continues to oppose what it sees as Iranian interference in Arab countries.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif continued his own visit to Iraq on Tuesday, meeting Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, to whose forces Tehran has supplied weapons in response to Islamic State advances.

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Comment Sorting
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 27, 2014 9:11 AM
Iran should shut up to mention Israel in its dealings with its fellow islamist country, Saudi Arabia. We have not forgotten in a hurry that Iran's agenda of destruction of Israel is keeping the Middle East in the trouble that is erupting every so often. Now Iran has ISIS to face, it should discuss with its co-sponsor of terrorisms in Riyadh how to control the demons they have collectively created that now wants their blood. It's now that Iran wants to discuss terrorism, will Saudi Arabia remember that Iran has stationed Hezbollah in the center of the region and has armed it much more than its own army waiting in the wings to take on sunni islam?

What happens to that now that ISIS, a probable offshoot of sunni islam in Turkey and Qatar appears overpowering? So Iran can be afraid for its own safety too? Too bad for Saudi Arabia its own octopus (ISIS) wants not just to swallow its enemies but would gladly swallow all of Saudi Arabia too. Can this be the uniting force to bring the two arch rivals to table? By this, are Tehran and Riyadh conceding the failure of both OIC and the Arab League? What about intelligence to know who's behind the overpowering ISIS, or is it when Turkey divulges intelligence from Israel and pass same to Tehran that it boasts what it can do with it?

Will the two superpowers of the islamic religion take a common stand against Turkey - the Ottoman Empire - trying to reestablish itself above the existing regional powers, and Qatar, at the OIC and further take them up at the UN to stop them from further destabilizing the world? Being one of the same kind, it will be surprising if they did not end their discussion making only resolution to fight against Israel at the UN forgetting ISIS, the real threat to their continued regional leadership, at least in the islamist world.

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