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Middle East

Iran shows openness to improving Saudi ties

  • File - In this Sunday, March 9, 2014, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks in a joint press briefing with the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton after their meeting, in Tehran, Iran. S (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Iran appeared to welcome Wednesday an offer by Saudi Arabia to thaw relations between the two countries, a day after the kingdom’s top diplomat invited his Iranian counterpart to visit.

Tehran, however, stopped short of confirming plans for a trip to the kingdom by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Saudi Arabia has long been wary of Iran’s influence in the region. Relations between the two countries have been further strained by the civil war in Syria. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors back rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad’s government, which is supported by Tehran.

Saudi Arabia took a step toward breaking the ice Tuesday, when Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said he had invited his Iranian counterpart to visit and was awaiting a reply.

“I hope that Iran contributes to stability in the region,” Prince Saud was quoted as saying by the official Saudi Press Agency. “ Iran is a neighbor country and we have relations with it. We talk to them and hope to end any differences between the two countries.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 15, 2014, on page 1.
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