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The New Arab Staff

Iran seemingly denies Saudi talks, while Israel fears US return to nuclear talks

The US is engaged in indirect talks with Iran in Vienna [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 April, 2021

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Iran's foreign ministry has seemingly denied reconciliation talks with Saudi Arabia.
Iran's foreign ministry gave a veiled denial of media reports that talks were held with Saudi Arabia in Baghdad earlier this month.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said on Monday that "there are different and contradictory accounts" in the media about the reports of reconciliation talks between the two regional rivals.

"These news agencies have a long history of publishing rumours," he said, explaining that Iran does not comment on such reports.

The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site said this is an indirect denial of the reported discussions between Riyadh and Tehran.

However, Khatibzadeh also said that Tehran "has always welcomed" discussions with Riyadh deeming these beneficial for both sides plus the region's overall stability.

Read more: Why Turkey wants Biden to salvage the Iran nuclear deal

The Financial Times reported on Sunday that talks attempting to heal the divisions between Iran and Saudi Arabia had occurred in Iraq in April, based on information from three sources.

One of these insiders added that the negotiations are proceeding more quickly due to the speed of the US' discussions on the Iran nuclear deal, in addition to attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia and Iran, who are engaged in a series of proxy conflicts around the Middle East, severed diplomatic ties in 2016.

Tensions in the Gulf
Infographic: November 2019. Click here to enlarge image.
The US is indirectly participating in discussions with Iran in Vienna about a return to the Iran nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), causing alarm in Israel.

Top Israeli intelligence officials told a meeting of Israel’s security cabinet that the Vienna talks would lead to Washington’s return to the Iran nuclear deal, Axios reported on Sunday.

"We are not very optimistic to say the least," they said.

"We will not be surprised if within weeks the U.S. and other world powers sign a deal with Iran," one source told the news website.

Khatibzadeh said there has been progress at these discussions but that this doesn't mean a wholesale resolution is nigh, The New Arab’s sister site reported.

The JCPOA was designed to limit Iran's nuclear capabilities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, though Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement in 2018.

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