RIYADH: Talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran are at an early stage but are a basis for addressing major issues between the two countries, the Kingdom’s foreign minister said on Sunday.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the latest round of discussions had taken place on Sept. 21. “We spoke about our deep concern about Iran’s transgressions on the nuclear issue,” he said.
“These discussions are still in the exploratory phase. We hope they will provide a basis to address unresolved issues between the two sides and we will strive and work to realize that,” he said.
Prince Faisal was speaking at a press conference in Riyadh with Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs. Among other issues, the two men discussed the conflict in Yemen, where Iran supports Houthi militia fighters who have launched a barrage of missile and drone attacks on civilian targets and energy infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.
Borrell described the situation in Yemen as a “terrible tragedy,” and voiced support for a peaceful settlement to the war.
He said the EU condemned Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, and was working diplomatically to prevent them.
“We appreciate Saudi Arabia’s efforts to end the conflict in Yemen as well as protect its territory,” Borrell said.
Borrell also said he hoped nuclear talks between global powers and Iran would restart in Vienna “soon.” Tehran is under pressure to rejoin the 2015 deal to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. The deal collapsed in 2018 when the US pulled out, and talks are stalled in a deadlock over whether Iran or the US should be the first to resume compliance.
Borrell’s visit to Riyadh is part of a regional trip to GCC countries that includes the UAE and Qatar. The EU aims to advance strategic cooperation with the Gulf states on climate change, global access to vaccines and supporting the “green economy,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief told Arab News earlier.
Borrell also said that he would convene a joint cooperation council at ministerial level early next year during the Saudi presidency of the GCC.