Iraq to Host Top Iran-Saudi Diplomats Amid Reconciliation Efforts

Saudi Arabia and Iran's foreign ministers will meet in Baghdad, according to a senior in Iraqi official, after the regional rivals severed ties in 2016

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, accompanies Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, upon his arrival at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia in June.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, accompanies Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, upon his arrival at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia in June.Credit: Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP
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The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran will meet in the Iraqi capital Baghdad after a series of secret talks held at a lower level to improve ties between the two regional rivals, a senior Iraqi official was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Following an attack by Iranian Islamists on the Saudi embassy in Tehran in 2016, Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with mostly Shiite Iran.

They have faced off in regional proxy conflicts, including in Syria and Yemen.

However, recent months have seen a diplomatic rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran, taking place over several rounds of talks hosted by Iraq.

The hostile rhetoric previously exchanged by the two rivals has abated too.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein was quoted on Saturday as telling the Kurdish news website Rudaw that a public meeting is planned between the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers.

"We are currently busy and will set a date for a public meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries in Baghdad," Hussein said, according to Rudaw.

"Five meetings between Saudi Arabia and Iran were held at the security level. They were secret," he added without giving details.

There was no immediate official confirmation in Riyadh and Tehran. Talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran kicked off in April last year through the mediation of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who maintains good links with both countries, Rudaw said.

Last month, al-Kadhimi visited Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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