Iran said it plans to resume talks with Saudi Arabia in Iraq once the new Iranian government is formed. Starting in April, the regional rivals have held negotiations in Baghdad that have been on hold as Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi is creating his government.
“We have had three rounds of negotiations with the Saudi side, and the fourth round is to be held after the formation of a new Iranian government,” said Iraj Masjedi, Iran’s ambassador in Iraq.
Since 2016, Iran and Saudi Arabia have had no formal diplomatic relations. US intervention in the region has played a role in fueling the rivalry between the two Middle Eastern countries and has disrupted previous indirect talks.
When Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020, he was scheduled to meet with Iraq’s former prime minister, who was facilitating indirect talks between Tehran and Riyadh.
Although the US is still deeply entrenched in the Middle East and is backing Riyadh’s vicious war in Yemen, analysts believe one reason the Saudis are talking with Iran is because of Washington’s shift in focus away from the region towards confrontation with China. Demonstrating the shift, the Pentagon has moved to pull Patriot antimissile batteries out of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.