Riyadh severed diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016.
Saudi Arabia confirmed that it held a fourth round of talks with Iran’s new administration on 21 September, the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud revealed on Sunday.
“These discussions are still in the exploratory phase. We hope they will provide a basis to address unresolved issues between the two sides and we will strive and work to realise that,” said the Saudi diplomat during a joint news conference with the European Union’s Foreign Policy chief, Josep Borrell.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh also confirmed last month that the two countries held recent talks, the first since the election of Iran’s new president Ebrahim Raisi.
“There have been good discussions on bilateral issues & good progress on Persian Gulf security. Since president Raisi taking office, messages have been exchanged at an appropriate level,” said Khatibzadeh in a previous statement.
While Prince Faisal did not disclose the location of the meetings, earlier reports stated that the talks took place in Baghdad.
In May, Iran confirmed “bilateral and regional” talks with Saudi Arabia following reports by the Financial Times regarding discreet meetings between the two countries. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi reportedly brokered those.
The kingdom cut off relations with the Islamic Republic in 2016 after Iranian protesters stormed Saudi diplomatic sites following Riyadh’s execution of popular Muslim scholar Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Strained relations were only further exasperated following the election of former US president Donald Trump who openly favoured Riyadh’s leadership in its confrontation with Tehran.
In January, Iran’s former foreign minister welcomed an invitation by his Qatari counterpart to hold “inclusive dialogue in the region.” Iran has looked favourably at Doha’s efforts to deescalate tensions between major players in the region.
Since Qatar and Saudi Arabia restored diplomatic ties on 5 January following the GCC crisis, Doha has expressed its willingness to mediate between the two rival states.
Furthermore, the Gulf state offered to mediate between the US and Iran to restore the 2015 nuclear accord.
Among the most important files is the Iran nuclear deal, with Qatar reiterating the importance of returning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] following the US withdrawal in 2018.
“There is no solution to differences and differences in views with Iran except through rational dialogue on the basis of mutual respect, and this applies to the issue of returning to the nuclear agreement with Iran,” Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said during the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month.