Top Iran official set for bilateral talks in Riyadh
Iran’s deputy foreign minister will visit Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for the first bilateral talks, media reported.
Both Riyadh and Tehran have welcomed this month’s nomination of Haider Al-Abadi, as prime minister-designate of Iraq, which is battling militants of the Islamic State.
The deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, left Tehran on Monday, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported.
Riyadh officials were not available to comment, but Al-Arabiya said the Iranian minister would arrive on Tuesday for talks.
IRNA said Abdollahian was scheduled to meet Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal to discuss bilateral issues, in the first such visit since the election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in 2013.
One of Rouhani’s first official comments after being elected was a pledge to improve ties with Gulf neighbors.
“It is very important for Iran and Saudi Arabia to talk because they both play a role in the region,” said Abdullah Al-Askar, head of the foreign policy committee on Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council.
“But we have to talk to tell them frankly about our reservations about their meddling in Syria and Iraq and Yemen and elsewhere,” he said.
Prince Saud said in May he had invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit the Kingdom for talks.
“The significance of Abdollahian’s visit to Saudi Arabia is that it coincides with efforts to form a new government in Iraq. It also coincides with Zarif’s tour of Iraq, his second since becoming foreign minister,” said Mohammad Ali Shabani, an Iran analyst based in Tehran.