Sputnik News– Neither of the two Middle Eastern countries has responded to a Moscow initiative to serve as a mediator in their bilateral conflict, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that Russia was ready to become a mediator in Saudi Arabia-Iran contacts and was also prepared to provide a negotiation platform for them.
Relations between Riyadh and Tehranhave been strained for a long time over a number of issues, resulting in a geopolitical standoff; Saudi Arabia considers Iran its main regional threat. Moreover, the two countries differ in their interpretations of Islam, due to the majority of Iran’s population being Shiite Muslims, while Saudi Arabia is mostly Sunni. The relationship between the two countries has further worsened due to oil market competition and Iran’s nuclear deal with the United States.
A major diplomatic row between Shiite-dominated Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia followed the execution of prominent Saudi Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities in January 2016. The move triggered a public backlash in Iran, with protesters storming the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and the Saudi Consulate in the Iranian city of Mashhad. The two countries severed diplomatic ties in the wake of these events.