Saudi King Salman hopes Iran will abandon negative behaviour and choose dialogue

Shura Council told expectations are Tehran will abandon its policy of destabilisation and aggression

King Salman addresses the kingdom's advisory Shura Council from his palace at Neom. SPA / Reuters
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Saudi Arabia's King Salman has said he hopes Iran will abandon its policy of destabilisation and aggression in the region and instead choose dialogue and cooperation.

In his annual speech to the kingdom’s advisory Shura Council on Wednesday, he spoke of concerns over Iran’s lack of cooperation with the international community on its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

“Iran is a neighbouring country to the kingdom and we hope that it will change its negative policy and behaviour in the region, and move towards dialogue and co-operation,” King Salman said in his wide-ranging speech.

“We follow with concern the Iranian government’s policy, which is destabilising regional security and stability, including building and backing sectarian armed militias and propagating its military power in other countries.”

During his speech, King Salman also described Tehran’s activities in the region, including “the establishment and support of sectarian and armed militias, the systematic deployment of its military capabilities in the countries of the region, and its failure to co-operate with the international community regarding the nuclear programme and its development of ballistic missile programmes”.

Saudi Arabia has condemned Tehran's proxy interference in Yemen and Syria, and in disputes in Lebanon.

Iran is a neighbouring country to the kingdom and we hope that it will change its negative policy and behaviour in the region, and move towards dialogue and co-operation.
King Salman

Saudi Arabia expelled Lebanese envoys in October in a diplomatic row over comments made by former information minister George Kordahi in support of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Saudi officials said they were also concerned with Lebanese political support for the Iran-backed Hezbollah militants.

“The kingdom also stands by the brotherly Lebanese people and urges all Lebanese leaders to prioritise the interests of their people … and stop Hezbollah’s terrorist hegemony over the structures of the state,” King Salman said.

In an effort to ease tensions, Saudi and Iranian officials reportedly met in a series of direct talks this year but those have yet to provide a breakthrough.

Yemen conflict

On the Yemen conflict, King Salman reaffirmed Saudi Arabia's intentions to bring an end to the war and focus on international efforts to reach a political solution.

The Saudi king also pointed to the dangers of the continued supply of weapons from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.

“The dangers of the arrival of advanced weapons and technologies to the terrorist Houthi militia was evident, through the extensive use of drones and ballistic missiles against vital installations and civilian facilities in the kingdom,” he said.

“The kingdom is still calling on the Houthis to appeal to the voice of wisdom and reason, and to put the interests of the honourable Yemeni people above others.”

Earlier this week, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition supporting the internationally recognised Yemeni government confirmed Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement has been sending experts to train Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the assembly and launch of ballistic missiles and drones from Sanaa's international airport.

King Salman also touched upon the recent Opec+ production agreement, saying it was essential for oil market stability, and urged all participating countries to comply with the pact.

He also spoke about the start of the second phase of the kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030, saying the program aims at “ensuring the prosperity of the country and a better future for its people by creating a solid and diversified economy”.

Updated: December 30, 2021, 6:53 PM