According to Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Sarif, the Iranian government is interested in talks with Saudi Arabia about easing the tension between the disputed neighboring countries. "We welcome every step that brings hope for stability and recovery to the people of the region," said Sarif, Abbas Mousavi, foreign minister spokesman. There had previously been corresponding signals from the opposite side: Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan announced on Wednesday that his country was ready for negotiations with Iran.
Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are considered arch-rivals who struggle for power and influence in the region. Saudi Arabia and its allies blame Iran for attacks in the region. The government in Riyadh and the United States in particular have tightened their tone towards Iran, raising concerns about a new war in the region.
The conflict manifests itself in the proxy war in Yemen. There, Saudi Arabia is fighting alongside the Yemeni government against the Houthi rebels who are supported by Iran. The war has led to one of the largest humanitarian disasters in the world. Both countries also have differences in the Syria conflict. Iran supports President Bashar al-Assad, while the Saudis support the rebels.
Saudi Arabia has had no diplomatic relations with Iran since Iranian demonstrators set fire to parts of the Saudi embassy in Tehran in 2016. In the past, Iranian President Hassan Ruhani had shown himself open to negotiations with Saudi Arabia with a reconciliation course.