Iranian talks with Saudi Arabia may signal thaw in relations

Mohammad Javad Zarif: ‘This meeting will be the first page of a new chapter in our two countries’ relations.’ Photograph: Ahmed Saad/AP

Shia Muslim Iran and conservative Sunni kingdom, bitter rivals for influence in the Gulf, meet in New York

Iran and Saudi Arabia have held their first foreign minister-level meeting since the 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani, official Iranian media have reported, signalling a possible thaw in relations between the rival Gulf powers.

Shia Muslim Iran and the conservative Sunni kingdom have been engaged in a bitter contest for influence in the region, evident in political and military struggles in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen.

The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, suggested after his meeting in New York with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud al-Faisal, that the talks could lead to an improvement in relations.

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