Iranian state media reported a potential resumption of talks between Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, said during an interview on Monday that he had spoken with the Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, at the Baghdad regional summit on Saturday.
“The Saudi counterpart said we’re waiting for the new government in Iran to be situated and we will resume our communications,” said Amirabdollahian.
The secret rapprochement between Iran and KSA began in April however due to Iran’s changing administration, these talks were paused. Iraj Masejedi said that “Iran has expressed its readiness for dialogue and peace and has extended its hand of help and assistance toward neighbours and countries in the region.”
— Samuel Ramani (@SamRamani2) August 28, 2021
The fourth round of talks is expected between the two regional heavyweights.
Iran and KSA had disrupted diplomatic ties in 2016 due to the incident of a renowned Shia cleric getting killed by a mob in KSA. Soon after tensions doubled when KSA chimed in support for former US President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy to tumble Iran into a spiral of sanctions after the collapse of the Iranian nuclear deal.
Since then KSA and Iran have been pointing fingers at each other on Yemen’s soil and other regional conflicts. In 2019, KSA held Iran responsible for a drone attack on KSA’s oil facilities.
Pakistan in full support of KSA and Iran thaw
Pakistan’s Prime Minister(PM) Imran Khan had welcomed KSA and Iran taking diplomatic steps to thaw tensions.
The peace initiative between the two countries will strengthen the global Muslim community, PM Imran Khan had remarked that such initiatives will strengthen the Muslim Ummah.
“We welcome the KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] initiative for peace with Iran. Iran is our neighbour and KSA is our closest friend. This peace initiative will strengthen the Muslim Ummah,” said PM Imran Khan in a tweet.
In April 2021, both KSA and Iran had shown goodwill towards each other. Their rapprochement allows Pakistan to balance between two Muslim countries and leverage to counter sectarian violence within Pakistan.
Pakistan is predominantly a Sunni majority country with about a 15-20 per cent Shia minority. Regional developments in either of the countries influence the population in Pakistan and maintaining a balanced policy has been an issue for Pakistan over the years due to their contestation. With Iran and KSA warming up, Pakistan can boost its position as a mediator.