Iran and Saudi Arabia have finally held the much-anticipated fifth round of bilateral negotiations in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
According to Nour News, a website affiliated with the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Shamkhani, said on Saturday that in this round a clear outlook was reached for the resumption of regular talks.
Describing the meeting as positive, Nour News said that this latest round raised hopes for re-establishing official relations between Tehran and Riyadh.
The report didn’t mention who participated in the talks and when exactly they took place but published a photo of Shamkhani’s deputy Saeed Iravani and head of the Saudi intelligence service Khalid bin Ali Al Humaidan, who apparently represented the two countries, saying this round “paved the grounds for a meeting between the Iranian and Saudi ministers in the near future”.
It added that high-ranking Iraqi and Omani officials have played an important role in organizing the meeting between representatives of Tehran and Riyadh.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman attending an Islamic gathering late in March said improving Tehran-Riyadh relations would benefit all regional countries.
However, it was the Islamic Republic that earlier in the month suspended the talks a day after Saudi Arabia announced it had beheaded 81 men, including seven Yemenis and a Syrian, for “heinous crimes.” Forty-one were Saudi Shiites, Human Rights Watch reported, apparently convicted over protests.
Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, which are locked in proxy conflicts around the region, launched direct talks hosted by Iraq last year.
Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 when mobs attacked its embassy in Tehran after Riyadh executed 47 dissidents including the leading Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.