Tehran: Diplomatic efforts are being made to open “direct dialogue” between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, a spokesman for Tehran’s foreign ministry said today. “Diplomatic efforts are underway between Iran and Saudi Arabia to prepare the ground for direct dialogue to resolve differences and regional issues,” Hossein Jaber Ansari told reporters.
The Shiite powerhouse and Sunni Gulf kingdom stand on opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, as well as in Bahrain and Lebanon. Iran supports the Syrian and Iraqi governments and provides both with military advice against jihadists, mainly the Islamic State group.
Riyadh condemns Tehran’s policy and supports armed rebel groups in Syria. Ansari also said that a new Saudi ambassador would soon take office in the Iranian capital. The current Saudi ambassador has not been in Tehran for over a year. The spokesman was however cautious in his comments on Saudi Arabia’s recent announcement on creating an anti-terror coalition of 34 Muslim countries that excludes Iran, Iraq and Syria.
The kingdom’s “actions must be consistent with their words and they should avoid double standards,” Ansari said. Any “action against terrorism” must respect “the territorial integrity and national sovereignty” of countries where operations take place, he said.
Ansari also criticised Turkey for this month deploying troops to a base in northern Iraq where it has a training programme for forces battling IS. “Any action against terrorism must be coordinated with the Iraqi and Syrian governments,” Ansari said. “No uncoordinated action is acceptable.”
Baghdad yesterday welcomed Turkey’s move to pull troops out of the country’s north.