Saudi Arabia Gives ’Green Light’ For Talks with Iran - Report
By Staff, Middle East Eye
Saudi Arabia has given a green light to Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to arrange a meeting with Iran as a first step towards de-escalating tensions in the region, Middle East Eye revealed.
Abbas al-Hasnawi, an official in Abdul Mahdi’s office, told MEE on Tuesday that the PM was mediating between the leaderships in Riyadh and Tehran and had communicated each side's conditions for talks to the other.
Hasnawi was speaking after a spokesperson for the Iranian government said on Monday that Saudi Arabia had sent messages to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani via “the leaders of some countries”.
The man confirmed to MEE that Abdul Mahdi was acting as an intermediary with the aim of easing tensions since attacks on Saudi oil facilities blamed on Iran earlier this month appeared to have tilted the Gulf rivals closer to open conflict.
"The Saudis have conditions before the negotiations process starts and the same with Iranians. We have liaised these conditions to each side. It is not an easy task to get together two opposite sides in terms of their ideology, sect and their alliances in the region."
Hasnawi said Abdul Mahdi had called for a meeting between Saudi Arabia and Iran which the Iraqi government would supervise and mediate, with Baghdad as its preferred venue.
"The Saudis have given the green light in this matter, and Mr Abdul Mahdi is working on it," said Hasnawi, adding that Saudi Arabia, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had "calmed their rhetoric" in recent days.
Abdul Mahdi was last week in Jeddah for talks with the Saudi crown prince.
Hasnawi said that the US government had also approved negotiations between the two sides. Falih Alfayyadh, Iraq's advisor for national security, is currently in Washington to discuss a timeline for the meetings, he added.
"If there will be a potential deal in the region that includes Yemen, Syria and Iraq, the Americans have no problem with that," Hasnawi said.
Hasnawi said Abdul Mahdi hoped to host a meeting in Baghdad but a location had yet to be agreed.