Iran backs truce in Yemen and regional dialogue after visit by Iraqi prime minister

Mustafa Al Kadhimi flew to Tehran for talks with Iran's president after meeting Saudi Arabia's crown prince in Jeddah

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Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi on Sunday expressed his country's support for the UN-brokered truce in Yemen and called for talks to resolve problems among countries in the region after a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi in Tehran.

Mr Al Kadhimi travelled to the Iranian capital after a meeting with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, where they discussed “efforts to consolidate peace and calm in the region”, the prime minister's office said.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Reuters

Baghdad has hosted five rounds of talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran since last year in an effort to reduce tensions between the regional rivals, most recently in April.

After the talks with Mr Al Kadhimi, Iran's president said his country “welcomed and stressed the need for a dialogue among the countries in the region in order to find solutions to its problems”.

On Yemen, Mr Raisi underlined the necessity of “continuing the truce, ending the sanctions against Yemen and starting a Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue that can put an end to the gruelling war in Yemen and the suffering of its people”.

“In this regard, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq stress the need to support peace and stability in the region,” he said.

The UN-brokered ceasefire in Yemen since April has galvanised international efforts to end the conflict, which pits the Iran-backed Houthi rebels against forces of the internationally recognised government supported by a Saudi-led coalition.

“We discussed the challenges the region is going through and we agreed on working together for calm and taking part in [efforts] for calming the atmosphere in our region,” Mr Al Kadhimi said.

“We also talked about the defining issues related to the people of this region and we agreed on supporting the truce in Yemen and on the principle of dialogue to end this war which affects everyone.”

Mr Al Kadhimi's trip to Saudi Arabia and Iran “comes in the context of the talks that Riyadh and Tehran recently held in Baghdad”, a Cabinet official said before the prime minister left for Jeddah with a high-level delegation on Saturday night. The Iraqi delegation performed Umrah in Makkah early on Sunday before leaving for Tehran.

Riyadh severed ties with Tehran in 2016 after Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in the Iranian capital following the execution of a Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia.

After the last round of negotiations in April, Mr Al Kadhimi said he believed that “reconciliation is near” between Riyadh and Tehran, a further reflection of shifting political alignments across the region.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein described the talks as “positive” and said the two countries were planning to hold more.

Iran's Nour News, which is affiliated with the country's Supreme National Security Council, said the “latest positive meeting has raised hopes for the two countries to take steps towards the resumption of ties”.

It also published a photo of two Iranian and Saudi officials standing alongside Mr Al Kadhimi.

In March, Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia and Iran should find a way to coexist.

“We have had discussions and we have heard many statements from Iranian leaders that are very welcome in Saudi Arabia,” he said in an interview with The Atlantic, the transcript of which was shared by Saudi Arabia’s state news agency.

“I hope we can reach a position that is good for both countries and a bright future for Saudi Arabia and Iran.”

Mr Al Kadhimi's trip comes amid a political stalemate in Iraq over the formation of a new government following a general election in October.

However, the visit was “not related to internal Iraqi political affairs and the talks about the formation of the new government”, the Iraqi Cabinet official said.

Updated: June 26, 2022, 5:32 PM