Saudi government confirms first round of talks with Iran

Saudi government confirms first round of talks with Iran

Saudi Arabia’s government confirmed on Sunday that it has been holding talks with Iran in an attempt to reduce longtime tension between the two countries, Reuters reported.

Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud said that a round of talks with Iran, including with its new president Ebrahim Raisi, took place in last month. While not giving a location of the meeting, the date he provided, Sept. 21, coincided with the United Nations General Assembly in New York in which leaders from both countries attended.

"These discussions are still in the exploratory phase. We hope they will provide a basis to address unresolved issues between the two sides and we will strive and work to realise that," Farhan al-Saud said at a news conference. 

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Another round of talks between the countries was held in Iraq months before Raisi took office in August, Reuters reported.

This comes as the two countries halted talks in 2016 which resumed in April amid discussions between the U.S. and Iran about reviving a nuclear pact, which officials in Riyadh opposed.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have backed opposing sides in various conflicts in the Middle East including in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

Both countries have said that they hope continued talks will ease tensions but Reuters noted that they also wanted to play down expectations of any major diplomatic agreements.