–Iran official says he’s not aware of any mediation
Iran is prepared to hold talks with regional rival Saudi Arabia, with or without the help of a mediator, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, ahead of a visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Asked about reports that Prime Minister Imran, due to arrive in Iran at the weekend, may try to mediate between Tehran and Riyadh, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said: “I am not aware of any mediation,” according to state broadcaster IRIB.
“Iran has announced that, with or without a mediator, it is always ready to hold talk with its neighbours, including Saudi Arabia, to get rid of any misunderstandings,” Mousavi added.
Iran’s foreign minister signalled this week that his country would be willing to discuss regional issues with Saudi Arabia, but that Riyadh had to stop “killing people”.
Saudi Arabia, which is locked in several proxy wars in the region with Iran, has blamed Tehran for attacks on Saudi oil plants on September 14, a charge Iran denies. The kingdom has said it prefers a political solution to a military one.
IMRAN’S IRAN VISIT:
Khan will embark on an official visit to Iran and Saudi Arabia as part of Islamabad’s efforts to defuse increasing tensions in the Middle East, diplomatic sources said Friday.
He will on Saturday leave Islamabad for Tehran, where he is scheduled to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday. The prime minister will later in the day travel to Riyadh for meetings with the Saudi leadership.
During Khan’s last visit to Riyadh, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had asked him to help defuse tensions with Iran, media reported.
The announcement of the Pakistani prime minister’s visit comes after The New York Times quoted officials of Iraq and Pakistan as saying that the Saudi crown prince had asked the leaders of those two countries in recent weeks to speak with their Iranian counterparts about de-escalation.
In his interview with TRT, Zarif emphasized that Saudi Arabia needs to start good relations with its neighbors if it wants to be secure.
“Buying weapons will not buy you security. If Saudi Arabia wants to be secure, the best way is to end the war in Yemen, to start good relations with its neighbors and the neighborhood, and not to trust the US,” he said.
The top diplomat also referred to a peace plan, officially called Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE), proposed by President Hassan Rouhani during his recent speech at the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, saying the initiative calls on “all eight countries in the Persian Gulf region to join in an attempt to bring peace through dialogue.”
“We hope it can be discussed and further enriched by our neighbors,” he added.
On Tuesday, Zarif stressed that Iran will be a companion of Saudi Arabia if the kingdom changes course and pursues regional issues at the negotiating table instead of “killing people.”
“Under the circumstances that the Saudis have developed an interest in talking with Iran, if they pursue regional issues at the negotiating table, not by killing people, they will certainly have the Islamic Republic along with them,” Zarif said.