Saudi, Iranian Delegations Talk Nuclear Program in Ammam, Jordanian Media Reports

While the meeting in Amman was 'held in an atmosphere of mutual respect,' Saudi Arabia says that no major results were achieved

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, in October.Credit: Saudi Royal Court/Reuters

Saudi Arabia and Iran held a security dialogue session in Amman, the Jordanian state news agency, Petra, reported on Monday.

According to the report, the session was hosted by the Arab Institute for Security Studies in Amman, and focused on "security and technical issues" concerning Iran's nuclear program.

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A senior Iranian diplomat told Reuters that no Iranian official attended the session. "What was held in Amman was not an official meeting. But of course such meetings between academics are useful to give better understanding about realities between the two neighbors," the diplomat said.

Ayman Khalil, secretary-general of the institute, was quoted by Petra as saying the meeting "was held in an atmosphere of mutual respect and a desire of both parties to enhance regional stability," and that more meetings are expected soon between the parties.

Saudi Arabia and Iran, the region's Sunni Muslim and Shi'ite powerhouses, launched direct talks this year at a time global powers are trying to salvage a nuclear pact with Tehran and as UN-led efforts to end the Yemen war stall.

The kingdom, which cut ties with Tehran in 2016, has described the talks as cordial but exploratory, while an Iranian official in October said they had gone a "good distance".

Riyadh's UN envoy Abdallah Al-Mouallimi told Saudi newspaper Arab News in a video interview published on Monday that no major results had been achieved.

"We would like to push these discussions towards substantive issues that involve the behavior of the Iranian government in the region," Mouallimi said.

"But as long as the Iranians continue to play games with these talks they are not going to go anywhere," he said. "The Iranians take a long-term attitude towards these talks. We are not interested in talks for the sake of talks."

Tensions between the two foes spiked in 2019 after an assault on Saudi oil plants that Riyadh blamed on Iran, a charge Tehran denies, and continue to simmer over Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition is battling the Iran-aligned Houthi group.

"It (Yemen) has proved to be intractable simply because the Houthis continue to receive a continuous supply of weapons and ammunition from their benefactors, particularly Iran," Mouallimi said, reiterating a charge that both Iran and the group reject.

The conflict is widely seen as a proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran, which are vying for influence across the region.

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