Iranian and Saudi FM meet 'informally' in Pakistan

Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers meet 'briefly' and 'informally' during OIC conference in Pakistan
2 min read
21 December, 2021
Foreign ministers from arch-rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia held a 'brief' meeting in Islamabad. No progress in negotiations between the two nations was made, according to an Iranian spokesperson.
Iran said the progress of negotiations with Riyadh depends on the 'seriousness' of Saudi Arabia [Getty]

Saudi Arabia and Iran's foreign ministers held an "informal" meeting at a key summit for Muslim nations held in Pakistan on Sunday, according to the Iranian foreign ministry. 

The ministers met on the sidelines of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad and comes after years of tensions between the two countries. 

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called the meeting "brief", adding that no progress in negotiations between the Sunni and Shia Muslim powers had been made.

"We did not have a new development in this regard. We are still waiting for Riyadh's answer. The progress of the negotiations will depend on the seriousness of the other side," said Khatibzadeh. 

"We call on Riyadh for political and diplomatic solutions and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries."

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Bilateral relations and the situation in Afghanistan were discussed between the two foreign ministers, reported The Nation. 

The Pakistani foreign ministry did not comment on the meeting, despite playing a behind-the-scenes role in facilitating talks between the two Middle Eastern countries. 

Iran and Saudi Arabia have been rivals for years, backing opposing sides in conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq as well as waging a proxy war in Yemen. 

The two Muslim countries launched direct talks this year, as world powers attempted to revive a nuclear deal with Tehran and the UN sought to end the war in Yemen, deemed the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The kingdom, which cut ties with Iran in 2016 and has since moved closer to another of Tehran's rivals, Israel, described the talks as cordial but exploratory. 

The OIC's Council of Foreign Ministers - hosted in Islamabad at the request of Saudi Arabia - was held to discuss and address the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, according to Pakistan TV channel Geo News.