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Iran has to change its policies for any rapprochement, says Saudi FM

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir speaks at a briefing with reporters at the Saudi Embassy in London on Tuesday, September 5, 2017. (REUTERS/Hannah McKay)
LONDON: Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Tuesday that Iran’s talk of a rapprochement with the Kingdom was laughable.
Al-Jubeir told reporters in London that Tehran would first have to change its policies before any diplomatic thaw could happen.
He was responding to earlier remarks made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, carried by the Iranian Students’ News Agency, which suggested that diplomatic visits could take place after Hajj.
“The comments of the foreign minister are laughable,” Al-Jubeir said, according to Reuters. “If Iran wants to have good relations with Saudi Arabia, it has to change its policies. It has to respect international law.”
“At this time, we do not see... that they’re serious about wanting to be a good neighbor,” Al-Jubeir said.
He said that diplomatic exchanges with Iran over arrangements for the Hajj did not represent a normalization of relations and that such contacts had nothing to do with politics.
“We had the Hajj season, and when we have the Hajj, we try not to politicize it... But this is not normalization,” he said. “The meetings around the Hajj, have nothing to do with the politics. It’s a religious issue.”
Sara Bazoobandi, a senior lecturer on international political economy at Regent’s University London, said she did not expect any immediate thaw in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran unless circumstances bring an immediate need for dialogue.
“I am quite pessimistic. I don’t think there is going to be a change unless there is an immediate interest involved,” she told Arab News.
Al-Jubeir also said that should the rift between Qatar and the Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — continue for two years, then “so be it.”
Others agreed that the diplomatic rift over Doha's alleged support of terror groups could be a protracted dispute.
A research paper released on Tuesday by a Qatari opposition group in London said that the rift was likely to stretch into 2018, bringing Doha closer to Tehran.
Khalid Al-Hail, spokesman of the Qatari opposition, said the situation is likely to lead to regime change within the Gulf state. “The continued standoff is causing hardship within Qatar, provoking civil unrest and increasingly the likelihood that the emir will be replaced in the near future (through) a coup by members of the ruling Al-Thani family,” he told Arab News.
The Saudi foreign minister visit to London came as fresh concerns about Iran’s controversial nuclear program were raised by President Donald Trump’s envoy to the UN.
Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a speech to a conservative think tank that there was an argument for the US to potentially declare Iran in violation of the nuclear deal. She said that while she did not know what decision the Trump administration would make if the US president did decide against certifying Iranian compliance he would be on solid ground.

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