Iraq’s caretaker prime minister is set to fly to Saudi Arabia on Saturday before heading to Iran in an effort to renew talks between the two regional arch foes, an official said Saturday.
The official said Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi was scheduled to travel to Riyadh later in the day for meetings with Saudi officials. He will then travel to Tehran on Sunday.
Al-Kadhimi’s visit aims to reactivate Baghdad-mediated dialogue between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who severed diplomatic ties in 2016, and has already led to five round of talks in Iraq with little traction. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge the information to the press.
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The talks aimed at defusing years-long tensions between the regional foes began quietly in Iraq’s capital in 2021, as Saudi Arabia sought a way to end its disastrous war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
A fifth and last round of talks held in Baghdad back in April was described as "positive" by Iran's foreign ministry spokesperson, and played up even more so by al-Kahdimi, who announced that "We are convinced that reconciliation is near."
While such gains have not publicly materialized, the ongoing dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia represents a significant departure from the state of regional tensions just five years ago, when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates demanded that Qatar cut off its relations with Iran as one of their central demands during their blockade of the peninsular kingdom.