FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flies in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria on March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo
March 13, 2022
DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran has suspended a fifth round of talks with regional rival Saudi Arabia, Nour News, a website of Iran’s top security agency, reported on Sunday.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said Saturday his country will host a new round of Saudi-Iranian talks starting Wednesday.
The Saudi government’s media office, CIC, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
“Iran has unilaterally suspended talks with Saudi Arabia,” Nour News said without giving a reason. No specific date has been set for a new round of talks.
Diplomats are hoping the opening of direct channels between Iran and Saudi Arabia will signal an easing of tensions in the Middle East after years of hostilities that have brought the region close to full-blown conflict.
Regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, which severed diplomatic ties in 2016, entered direct talks hosted by Iraq last year as United Nations-led efforts to end a war in Yemen stalled.
They’ve held four rounds of talks in Iraq, with Baghdad hoping its mediation would discourage neighbors from settling scores on its territory. Saudi Arabia has described the talks as cordial but exploratory, while Tehran says they’ve traveled a “good distance”.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have for years backed opposing sides in regional conflicts and political disputes in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and Saudi Arabia has led an Arab coalition waging war against the Iran-allied Houthi movement in Syria since 2015 Yemen leads.
Meanwhile, talks to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal are teetering on the brink after a last-minute Russian demand forced world powers to pause negotiations indefinitely, despite a largely finished text.
Negotiators have reached the final stages of 11-month talks to restore the deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.
(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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