Saudi official denies request for Iraqi mediation with Iran: state agency

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 19, 2017. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS

Baghdad ( A senior Saudi Arabian official has denied reports that his country had requested Iraq to mediate between the kingdom and Iran for better relations, according to Saudi Arabia’s state agency SPA.

The agency, through its Arabic service, quoted the official saying Saudi Arabia had not asked for any kind of Iraqi mediation with Tehran, deeming reports in that respect as “entirely untrue”.

The official said his country “adheres to its unchanged policy of rejecting any form of rapprochement with the Iranian regime which disseminates terrorism and extremism in the region…and which intervenes in the affairs of other countries”.

“The current Iranian regime cannot be negotiated because it…does not respect the diplomatic principles,” said the unnamed official.

The agency’s report comes a few days after Iraqi Interior Minister Qassem al-Araji said in statements in Tehran on Saturday that the Gulf kingdom had officially asked Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi to help mend Riyadh’s ties with Tehran.

On Tuesday, Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson, Bahram Qassemi, said in press statements that reports about the Saudi request for mediation with Iran were “a positive thing”, welcoming “any mediation that achieves security and stability in the region”.

Qassemi was quoted saying  his country had not received any signals from Saudis of a desire to mend relations.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have, for decades, been caught up in a political standoff. Saudi Arabia has always accused Iran of fomenting unrest in the region by backing Shia political groups and militias in the Middle East.

The kingdom has exchanged visits by high-level officials with Iraq over the past months, signalling an improvement in relations with the Iran-backed Iraqi government.

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