Iran and Saudi Arabia hold fifth round of talks in Baghdad | Political news

Both sides express hope that the talks could ease bilateral and regional tensions, but have played down expectations of a major breakthrough.

Tehran, Iran – Iran and Saudi Arabia have held a fifth round of direct talks in Baghdad, a media outlet close to Iranian security forces has confirmed.

Senior officials from Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and Saudi intelligence chief Khalid bin Ali Al Humaidan attended the talks, according to SNSC affiliate Nournews, which did not mention the date of the meeting.

The outlet said the main challenges to restoring ties between the two countries were discussed in a “positive” atmosphere that “paints a brighter outlook” for the future of bilateral relations.

He added that the talks could also pave the way for a meeting of the two foreign ministers.

Tehran and Riyadh severed diplomatic relations in 2016.

Both sides have so far expressed hope that the talks could ease bilateral and regional tensions, but have played down expectations of a major breakthrough.

Apart from Iraq, which hosted all rounds of direct talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia from April 2021, Oman was also said to have played a role in hosting the latest session.

So far, the only workable outcome of the direct talks appears to have been the reopening of Iran’s representative office to the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The news comes as Iran last month “temporarily suspended” talks with Saudi Arabia without citing reasons.

Saudi Arabia’s execution of 81 people in a single day, many of whom were minority Shia Muslims in the Sunni-majority kingdom, was found to be the cause.

The severance of diplomatic ties between the two regional powers six years ago came after mobs of people attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran in response to the execution of a prominent Shiite religious leader.

The two are also at odds in Yemen’s deadly more than seven-year war, where Iran backs the Houthi movement and Saudi Arabia leads a coalition fighting on behalf of the internationally recognized Yemeni government.

A two-month UN-brokered truce is now in effect in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has backed the formation of a new eight-member presidential council, which was inaugurated earlier this week.

Iran, meanwhile, has called for an end to the war and is holding talks between Yemeni stakeholders without foreign intervention.

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