Iran ready for closer ties with Saudi Arabia, says foreign minister

Javad Zarif says he hopes recent talks will lead to greater regional stability

epa09193650 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (C) is speaking during a press conference following a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mikdad (2-R) in Damascus, Syria, 12 May 2021.In a statement to reporters upon his his arrival, the Iranian Minister was quoted by the official Syrian News Agency SANA as saying that 'the criminal acts of the Zionist entity that have escalated since International Jerusalem Day and the unprecedented events that took place in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the occupied territories and the bombing of Gaza have created very deteriorating conditions in the region'  adding that Syria 'as one of the leading countries in the axis of resistance, has a very important role in this field.'  EPA/YOUSSEF BADAWI

Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, said his country was ready for closer ties with Saudi Arabia and hoped recent talks would lead to greater stability in the region.

Mr Zarif was speaking in Damascus after a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

Baghdad recently said that it hosted and mediated talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia last month.

The talks have occurred “more than once", the hosts said, calling them continuing, “important and significant”.

Mr Zarif said he hoped they would “come to fruition” and lead to co-operation between the two rivals to bring more stability and peace to the region, particularly in Yemen.

“We certainly are ready and have always been ready for close ties with Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Tehran and Riyadh have long been rivals and support opposite sides in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere in the region.

Relations worsened considerably in 2016, when Riyadh removed its diplomats after protesters attacked its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad in retaliation for the kingdom executing a prominent cleric, Nimr Al Nimr.

In Syria’s civil war, Riyadh supported the opposition while Tehran backed Mr Al Assad’s forces.

Mr Zarif said Damascus would welcome better relations with Riyadh.

“I am sure our Syrian brothers have always welcomed co-operation in the Arab world," he said. "And we are also in that mood.”

More on Iran

Iran's hardline former president Ahmadinejad registers to run again