Saudi Foreign Minister Says Iran's Talk of Rapprochement Is Laughable

Speaking to reporters in London, the foreign minister dismissed claims by his Iranian counterpart that diplomatic visits would soon be arranged

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir speaks at a briefing with reporters at the Saudi Embassy in London, September 5, 2017.
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir speaks at a briefing with reporters at the Saudi Embassy in London, September 5, 2017. HANNAH MCKAY/REUTERS

Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that Iran's talk of a possible rapprochement with the kingdom was laughable.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in London that Iran would have to change its policies for any rapprochement.

Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, last month said the Islamic Republic would soon exchange diplomatic visits after the regional rivals severed diplomatic ties last year.

"The comments of the foreign minister are laughable," al-Jubeir said. "If Iran wants to have good relations with Saudi Arabia, it has to change its policies. It has to respect international law."

"At this time, we do not see that they're serious about wanting to be a good neighbor," al-Jubeir said.

Iran's Zarif was quoted by the Iranian Students' News Agency that diplomatic visits could take place after the hajj pilgrimage ends in the first week of September. But al-Jubeir said that diplomatic exchanges with Iran over arrangements for the hajj did not represent a normalization of relations and that such contacts had nothing to do with politics.

"We had the hajj season, and when we have the hajj, we try not to politicize it. But this is not normalization," he said. "The meetings around the hajj, have nothing to do with the politics. It's a religious issue."

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are at their worst in years, with each accusing the other of subverting regional security and supporting opposite sides in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Al-Jubeir also said that if the rift with Qatar continued for two years, then "so be it."

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates severed ties with Qatar in June over Doha's alleged support for militants.