Iran’s Rouhani offers to talk with Saudi, Bahraini leaders

Al-Monitor – Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei has confirmed that President Hassan Rouhani has sent letters to the Saudi and Bahraini kings in an effort to resolve tensions with the two Arab countries. At a weekly press briefing in Tehran on Nov. 4, Rabiei said the letters embodied Iran’s strategy of “seeking peace and stability” in the region. The Iranian official noted that US pressure should not be allowed to “create gaps” between neighbors, which share “cultural and religious commonalities and have been living in peaceful coexistence.”

Iran, the newspaper reflecting the official stance of the Rouhani administration, described the letters as Tehran’s “practical steps” toward implementing the “Hormuz Initiative,” a peace plan aimed at resolving Persian Gulf tensions and promoting cross-strait cooperation against the US military presence there. Rouhani unveiled the plan during his address to the UN General Assembly in September. Earlier in May, Iran also offered its Persian Gulf neighbors a “non-aggression pact” that seeks to prevent potential regional conflicts.

Saudi and Bahraini officials have yet to comment on the latest outreach from Iran. There are already reports that Kuwait has acted as the mediator delivering the Iranian president’s letters to the two kings. The content of the letters remains unknown, but Iranian news outlets quoted Kuwaiti media as specifically saying that the letter contained Iran’s proposals on high-level direct talks to be hosted by Kuwaiti officials. Meanwhile, on his Twitter account, former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani hailed Iran’s correspondence as “an important opportunity” to be grabbed by Arab states for “unity” and “understanding.”

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