Baghdad has hosted several meetings between Riyadh and Tehran to solve disputes with dialogue, which was suspended again amid soaring Middle East tensions.
Iraq’s caretaker prime minister arrived in Saudi Arabia, his office said, on a visit that an official said aimed at reactivating Baghdad-mediated talks between the kingdom and Iran.
The official said Mustafa al Kadhimi planned to travel to Tehran after the visit to Saudi Arabia.
“Upon arrival at King Abdulaziz International Airport, the Iraqi Prime Minister was received by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense,” reported the kingdom’s news agency.
The visit seeks to open new avenues that would reactivate dialogue between the two regional foes, according to the official, who is privy to the Iran-Saudi dialogue track. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge the information to the press.
Al Kadhimi’s office later said he arrived in the Saudi city of Jeddah for an official visit during which he would meet Saudi officials. It is al Kadhimi’s second visit since he took the post of prime minister in May 2020.
The Saudi-Iran talks aimed at defusing yearslong tensions between the regional foes began quietly in Iraq’s capital in 2021 as Saudi Arabia sought a way to end its disastrous war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The conflict has spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters and brought bombs from rebel drones and missiles raining down on Saudi airports and oil facilities.
A fifth and last round of talks was held in Baghdad in April before they were suspended again amid soaring Middle East tensions.
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Iran, the largest Shiite Muslim country in the world, and Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties in 2016 after Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al Nimr.
Angry Iranians protesting the execution stormed two Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, fueling years of animosity between the nations.
Iraq borders both Iran and Saudi Arabia and is often caught in the middle of the two nations’ proxy wars.
Al Kadhimi has stressed he wants balanced relations with the two neighbors. Improving relations with Saudi Arabia was a key policy of his administration when he took office.