Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that Riyadh aspires to establish “distinguished” relations with Iran, in statements that come after sources announced a meeting in Baghdad between delegations from the two sworn countries.
“In the end, Iran is a neighbouring country, and all we aspire to is to have a good and distinguished relationship with Iran,” the Crown Prince added in an interview with the “Saudi” channel late on Tuesday night. He continued, “We do not want Iran’s situation to be difficult. On the contrary, we want Iran to grow and have interests in it and have interests in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to push the region and the world to grow and prosper.”
“Our problem is in Iran’s negative behaviour, whether from its nuclear program or its support for militias outside the law in some countries in the region or its ballistic missile program,” he said.
The Saudi Crown Prince did not mention the meeting with Iran in Baghdad, but he said that his country is working “with our partners in the region and the world to find solutions to these problems, and we hope that we will overcome them and that it will be a good and positive relationship for all.”
Earlier this month, an Iraqi government source and another Western diplomat told The Eastern Herald that a meeting in early April brought together two high-level delegations from Saudi Arabia and Iran in Baghdad. These discussions were kept secret until the British newspaper the Financial Times revealed them.
While Riyadh denied this through its official press, Tehran did not comment on the matter and was satisfied with affirming that the dialogue with Saudi Arabia was “always welcome.”
Saudi Arabia, an ally of Washington, and Tehran, which is hostile to the United States, support opposing parties in major conflicts in the Middle East, especially in Yemen, Syria and Iraq.
Saudi Arabia accuses Iran in particular of supporting the Houthi rebels, who are attacking the kingdom with drones and ballistic missiles, in response to its leadership of a military alliance against them in the neighbouring country plunged into war.
In this context, bin Salman called on the rebels to sit at the negotiating table “to reach solutions that guarantee the rights of everyone in Yemen and also guarantee the interests of the countries of the region.” “The offer made by Saudi Arabia is a ceasefire, economic support and whatever they want, in exchange for a ceasefire by Al-Houthi and sitting at the negotiating table,” he added.
He continued: “There is no doubt that Al-Houthi has a strong relationship with the Iranian regime, but also Al-Houthi in the latter is Yemeni and has an Arab and Yemeni tendency, in which I hope you will live more deeply, in order to take into account his interests and those of his homeland before anything else.”
In another context, bin Salman confirmed that the Kingdom agrees with the administration of US President Joe Biden on 90 percent of the matters, saying: “We are working to strengthen it in one way or another, but Saudi Arabia will not accept any interference in its internal affairs,” adding that the United States is a strategic partner.
The Saudi Crown Prince said that the differences between Riyadh and Washington are less than 10 percent, stressing at the same time that the Kingdom is working to find solutions and understandings. He added that Saudi Arabia is forging strategic partnerships with Russia, India and China, in addition to the United States.
On the other hand, bin Salman revealed that the Kingdom is in talks with a foreign energy company to sell it 1 percent of the shares of the oil company, Aramco. He said, “There is now a discussion about the acquisition of 1 percent by one of the leading energy companies in the world, and this will be a very important deal to boost Aramco’s sales in the country in which it (the company) is located, which is a very huge country.”
In the same interview, he also talked about the intention of the Kingdom, the largest oil exporter in the world, to sell stakes to other companies and offer shares locally. He said, “There are also discussions with other companies to buy different shares, and there is a part of Aramco shares that may convert to the Public Investment Fund, and a part is offered in the form of annual offerings in the Saudi market.”