Iran has confirmed that it held a fifth round of “positive” talks with Saudi Arabia in Baghdad on normalizing bilateral relations.
The two countries started direct fence-mending talks last year, but Iran announced a temporary halt in March after Saudi Arabia executed 81 men in its biggest mass execution in decades.
“The fifth round of talks between Saudi Arabia and Tehran were held in Iraq and the talks were progressive and positive,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a televised weekly news conference on Monday.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said Sunday Baghdad would host a new round of talks between Tehran and Riyadh.
Hussein told the official Iraqi News Agency that the fifth round of talks was held a friendly atmosphere earlier this week.
Hussein had earlier stated that the Iraqi government would make every effort in order to create a suitable opportunity for a common understanding between the two regional powers.
Iran’s Nour News, affiliated with the country’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), first announced the fifth round of negotiations on Saturday.
The outlet described the negotiations as “positive”, with the two sides exchanging views on the main challenges hindering the resumption of bilateral relations.
“The positive atmosphere of the recent meeting has raised hopes for the two countries to take a step towards the resumption of relations. It is expected that a joint meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries will be held in the near future,” the news agency said in a tweet in Persian.
Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 after Iranian protesters, enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, stormed its embassy in Tehran.
In the years that ensued, the kingdom pursued a confrontational foreign policy toward the Islamic Republic, but it has apparently changed tack since 2021.
Both Tehran and Riyadh have hinted that some progress has been made in their recent rounds of negotiations.
The two neighbors, however, remain deeply divided over a set of regional issues, mainly the destructive Saudi-led war on Yemen.
Last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran welcomes Saudi Arabia’s “new inclination” to fix bilateral relations, stating that rapprochement between the two sides will benefit both nations as well as other friendly states.