Iran has decided to temporarily suspend its secret Baghdad-brokered talks aimed at defusing years long tensions with regional rival Saudi Arabia, Iranian state-linked media reported Sunday, a day after Saudi Arabia carried out its largest known mass execution in its modern history.
Though the report did not give a reason for Iran's suspension, it comes after Saudi Arabia put to death 81 people convicted of crimes ranging from killings to ties to militant groups, a group that activists believe included over three dozen Shiites
Shiites, who live primarily in the kingdom’s oil-rich east, have long complained of being treated as second-class citizens as Saudi Arabia's executions of Shiites have stirred regional unrest in the past
Iraq's foreign minister earlier had said the fifth round of talks between Saudi and Iranian representatives was due to resume on Wednesday.
The Baghdad-mediated talks between the regional foes began quietly in Iraq's capital last year as Saudi Arabia sought a way to end its disastrous war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, a conflict that has spawned the world's worst humanitarian disaster and brought rebel drones and missiles raining down on Saudi airport sand oil facilities.
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Iran, the largest Shiite Muslim country in the world, and Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties in 2016 after Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Angry Iranians protesting the execution stormed two Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, fueling years of animosity between the nations.
Concurrently, Talks to revive Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers meanwhile broke off last week without an agreement, casting uncertainty over months of negotiations that had nearly reached a breakthrough.