Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Iran after MBS visit | Political news

The Iraqi leader is trying to facilitate the restoration of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Tehran, Iran – Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi arrived in Tehran on Sunday leading a high-level delegation for talks with Iranian officials following a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Iranian state media showed al-Kadhimi, who was also accompanied by his foreign minister Fuad Hussein and others, receiving an official welcome from President Ebrahim Raisi at Saadabad Palace in the capital.

The visit comes after the Iraqi leader was personally received by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a short trip to Jeddah on Saturday evening.

Al-Kadhimi’s office said he and the crown prince discussed “efforts to push towards a calm and constructive dialogue” and issues “that would help support and strengthen regional security and stability” in addition to bilateral relations.

The Iraqi prime minister’s visit is part of his earlier efforts to facilitate conversation between regional foes Tehran and Riyadh, which support opposing sides in the more than seven-year war in Yemen.

In a press conference following their talks, Raisi and al-Kadhimi did not specifically mention Saudi Arabia, but spoke of improving relations in the region.

“The normalization of relations with the Zionist regime and the presence of foreigners will not be good for the region and will not solve any problems,” Raisi said in reference to Israel, standing next to al-Kadhimi.

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The two officials said they agreed that continuing the war in Yemen is not the way forward, and that only dialogue can resolve the fighting, which has caused a humanitarian crisis.

In this vein, they renewed their support for the UN-brokered truce in Yemen.

The two leaders also praised the bilateral relations of their two countries and said that some of the discussions between their delegations were aimed at improving them. Discussions focused on removing obstacles to financial transactions, facilitating religious pilgrimages and work on a railway that links Shalamcheh in Iran and Basra in Iraq, they said.

Direct negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, hosted by Baghdad, started in April 2021.

They have so far held five rounds of talks but have yet to agree on how to restore formal diplomatic relations which were cut in 2016. At the time, protesters stormed the Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran after Saudi Arabia, which is mainly Sunni, executed a famous Shia religious leader.

Following the fifth round of talks, held in April, a media outlet close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, which took part in the talks, said there was a chance the two countries could soon organize a meeting of their foreign ministers.

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

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