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Iran says Saudi ties can improve if Riyadh willing

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaber-Ansari says relations between the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia can improve if there is “a definitive will” on the part of Riyadh for such enhancement of ties. 

In a press conference on Monday, Jaber-Ansari said there is great potential to change the current climate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, adding Tehran has always sought diplomacy-based interaction with its neighbors.

“Iran’s unchanging policy is based on talks with its neighbors and this policy will continue,” he said.

The Iranian official described Saudi Arabia as a “major neighbor” of the Islamic Republic, saying Tehran and Riyadh have great potentialities for boosting bilateral relations.

“If there is a definitive will on the part of Saudi government … ground will be prepared in order to change the current atmosphere,” he said.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have different stances on some developments in the Middle East, particularly the situation in Syria.

The Islamic Republic supports the Syrian government and nation, calling for a political settlement of the crisis, while Saudi Arabia has been supporting Takfiri terrorist groups operating in Syria to topple the Damascus government.

Mina tragedy

Pointing to the recent crush in Mina near the Saudi city of Mecca, Jaber-Ansari said the Saudi government’s “mismanagement” during the Hajj rituals has turned the “great human disaster” into an issue with “political dimensions.”

The picture shows the bodies of a number of pilgrims killed in a crush during Hajj rituals in Mina, Saudi Arabia, on September 24, 2015. (AFP photo) 

“The improper handling of the tragedy [by Saudis] has made its dimensions more complicated and it has turned into a very big issue with political dimensions,” he said.

Stressing that the Islamic Republic will continue to follow up on the Mina tragedy, saying Riyadh should accept its legal responsibilities in with regard to the tragedy.

The crush happened on September 24 after two large masses of Hajj pilgrims fused together. Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization puts the death toll from the tragedy at around 4,700 people, including 464 Iranians. Saudi Arabia says nearly 770 people were killed.

Iran’s advisory military aid to Syria

The Iranian official further said that the Islamic Republic would continue its advisory assistance to Syria to help the Arab country in the fight against terrorism.

Jaber-Ansari said that Iran has provided advisory military assistance to Syria based on the request of the Syrian government.

He further reiterated the Islamic Republic supports a diplomatic settlement of the Syrian crisis, voicing Tehran’s opposition to using terrorism as an instrument to advance political objectives.

Jaber-Ansari’s remarks come as international diplomatic efforts are underway to help end nearly five years of foreign-backed violence which has reportedly claimed over 250,000 in Syria since 2011.

Two rounds of international talks, attended by Iran and Saudi Arabia, have been held on the Syrian issue in Vienna, Austria, on October 30 and November 14. The UN has said a third meeting is likely to be held in New York on December 18.​


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