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The New Arab Staff

Iran FM reveals Saudi Arabia rejected all diplomatic moves for dialogue

Mohammad Javad Zarif has been Iran's top diplomat for eight years [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 January, 2021

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In an interview with a reformist newspaper, Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke of diplomatic efforts with Saudi Arabia and his career as Iran’s top diplomat.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, sat down for an interview with reformist newspaper Etemad, and revealed that he had reached out to Saudi Arabia several times but was rejected. 

Zarif said that during his first weeks at foreign minister, he sent messages to Saudi Arabia, indicating that the late Qasem Solemeni approved of the diplomatic move. 

The letter was reportedly addressed to late Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal.

The Iranian FM said he expressed his desire to begin dialogue in a bid to resolve issues between the two countries. Among the suggested talking points was Yemen, he added. 

According to Zarif, the letter was sent through a person, who was known to have a “close relationship with Saudi Arabia and its rulers at the time.”

During the interview, he highlighted other instances in which he attempted to open dialogue, including one such occasion on the sidelines of an international conference, but these offers “were rejected”.

Speaking about his performance as Iran’s top diplomat over the past eight years, Zarif underscored his role in drawing up policies related to the nuclear deal.

However, he added that he has not played a “prominent” role in regional issues, instead focusing on issues related to Russia, China and Latin America. 

Regarding criticism of Iran’s human rights record, Zarif questioned the motivations of these countries. 

“I am sure that the countries that supported the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and did not reduce their relations with Saudi Arabia even an inch because of this crime, and the countries that support the Zionist entity in suppressing the Palestinian people are not keen on the Iranian people”

On tensions with the US, Zarif explained: “We are two different identities and we have structural differences. We represent a civilisation and America wants to transform us into another being so that we give up our civilisation.”

Read more: Iran, Israel and Turkey: How regional actors filled the Arab Spring's power vacuum

“America does not represent a civilisation that claims to have values that it must fight for,” he added. 

“I am not at all a believer in tension and convulsions, but rather I believe in the need to preserve the identity,” he said.

Relations between the US and Iran are going through a transition as the new Biden administration takes office. Experts believe Biden is likely to return to the Iran nuclear deal. 

Meanwhile, Zarif said he is willing to negotiate with “all the world, except for the Zionist entity.”

Regarding future relations with the US, he said: “My personal opinion, which is not the state’s position, is that we should settle the final picture of relations with America.”

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