Iranian and Saudi officials conducted direct talks this month in an effort to thaw tensions between the two rivals, a senior Iranian official said and two regional sources told The Financial Times. The meeting took place as US president Joe Biden is working to revive the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal with the Islamic regime and end the war in Yemen.
The April meeting in Iraq didn’t produce any type of breakthrough, according to the sources.
The regional source added that the focus of the meeting was Yemen, where a military coalition headed by Riyad has been fighting the Iran-backed Houthi militia since 2015.
“This was a low-level meeting to explore whether there might be a way to ease ongoing tensions in the region,” the Iranian official said, adding that the request was made by Iraq.
Iraq’s prime minister held talks with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince earlier this month and also visited the United Arab Emirates.
The other regional source reported that the parties also discussed Lebanon, which is experiencing a leadership vacuum in the midst of an imminent economic collapse. Gulf states are concerned about the increasing role of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group.
Saudi officials didn’t respond to a request for comment by Reuters. Meanwhile, a senior Saudi official outright denied that there were any talks with Tehran.
Saudi Arabia severed ties with Shi’ite Iran after its embassy was stormed in Tehran in 2016 in a row over Riyadh’s execution of a Shi’ite Muslim cleric.
A Western diplomat in the region said that both Washington and Great Britain received advanced notice of the talks but had “not seen the outcome”.
The US and Iran are currently commencing indirect talks in Austria to revive the world powers’ nuclear JCPOA nuclear deal with Tehran, which former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. Iran breached several nuclear regulations after Trump reinstituted sanctions.