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28 May 2024

We are not natural-born enemies of Iran: Saudi UN envoy

By Reuters

 Saudi Arabia said on Monday it would restore ties with Iran when Tehran stopped meddling in the affairs of other countries and pledged that Riyadh would continue to work ‘very hard’ to support bids for peace in Syria and Yemen despite the spat.

When asked what it would take for ties to be restored, Saudi UN Ambassador Abdallah Al Mouallimi told reporters: "Very simple - Iran to cease and desist from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, including our own."

He added, "If they do so, we will of course have normal relations with Iran. We are not natural-born enemies of Iran."

On Monday, Bahrain and Sudan cut all ties with Iran, following Riyadh's example. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir told Reuters Riyadh would also halt air traffic and commercial relations between the rival powers.

Jubeir blamed Iran's aggressive policies for the diplomatic action, alluding to years of tension that spilled over on Saturday night when Iranian protesters stormed the kingdom's embassy in Tehran.

"The downgrading of ties is not fundamentally a question of responding to executions and the storming of an embassy... (but rather) a function of a much deeper conflict between the two states," said Julien Barnes-Dacey, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Crude importer China declared itself ‘highly concerned’ with the developments, in a rare foray into Middle East diplomacy. The United States and Germany called for restraint.

Russia offered to mediate an end to the dispute but a US senior State Department official said Iran and Saudi Arabia must work out their differences themselves.

"It is not going to be helpful for us to own this process, certainly to be seen to be driving it," the US official said. "They have to work this out between themselves if a solution to this tension is going to be long-lasting and sustainable."

"It was very difficult to get everybody around the table," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "It certainly is going to be even more difficult to get everybody back around the table if you have the Saudis and the Iranians trading public barbs and public expressions of antagonism."

Saudi Arabia has been instrumental in bringing together Syria's political and armed opposition groups that would participate in peace talks with Assad's government.

Saudi UN Ambassador Mouallimi said his country's severing of ties with Iran would not affect its efforts to secure peace in Syria and Yemen. "We will attend the next Syria talks and we're not going to boycott them because of Iran or anybody else for that matter," he told reporters at the United Nations.