Washington welcomes news of direct talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, official says

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  • Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud confirmed over the weekend that the first talks between Saudi and the new government of Iran had taken place.
  • Although Riyadh and Tehran have expressed no hope of a major breakthrough, both sides have expressed support for de-escalation.
  • Diplomatic communication is a significant difference from the current situation between the US and Iran.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The US welcomes news of direct communications between longtime Middle Eastern rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, a Biden administration official told CNBC on Monday, at a time when tensions in the region are high. And Iran has a recently elected government. He did not shy away from expressing his animosity towards the West.

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Jennifer Gavito, deputy assistant secretary for Iran and Iraq at the State Department’s Near Eastern Bureau, said: “Our regional partners, first of all, like the United Arab Emirates, are absolutely right for us as partners in economics, in regional security, in mutual cooperation. are important.” affairs told CNBC’s Dan Murphy in Dubai.

“And so we welcome their contribution to regional stability. With regard to the announcement of direct talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran, we welcome it. We welcome any direct talks that will lead to greater peace and prosperity in the region. leads to stability.”

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The discussions took place at the Dubai Expo, a six-month-long mega-event in the Gulf city that is expected to boost tourism and investment and further enhance its global profile. Gavito was the highest-ranking US official ever to attend the event.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saudi confirmed over the weekend that the first talks between the kingdom and Iran’s new government were held, saying that the latest round took place on September 21.

“These discussions are still in the exploration stage. We hope that they will provide a basis for resolving the unresolved issues between the two sides and we will try to make them come true,” he said during a press conference on Sunday. “

Iran and Saudi Arabia support opposing sides of many territorial disputes and violent conflicts, including Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of attacking its oil infrastructure and providing Yemen’s Houthi rebels with missiles used to attack the kingdom.

Although Riyadh and Tehran have expressed no hope of a major breakthrough, both sides have expressed support for de-escalation.

Despite a fleeting return to negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal in the early months of the Biden presidency, the diplomatic outreach is a significant difference from the current situation between the US and Iran. The Obama-era 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

But the deal has essentially been on life support for years as the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew the US from the deal and imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran, crippling its economy.

In response, Iran has gradually reduced compliance with the agreement, raising the level of uranium stockpiles and enrichment to a level far beyond the parameters set out in the JCPOA and that many in the international community say it is. is dangerous.

Tehran insists its actions are within its sovereign rights and could be reversed if the US lifts sanctions. Meanwhile, the Biden administration says it is ready to return to the negotiating table but will only lift sanctions if Iran first reverses its JCPOA violations.

Iran’s new President Ibrahim Raisi, a staunch and outspoken anti-Western cleric, called Washington’s sanctions – especially during the pandemic – a “crime against humanity” to the US during his first UN speech in September. Slogan.

On Saturday, Iran’s foreign minister said Washington attempted to discuss resuming nuclear talks last month, but he Tehran asks US to release $10 billion of its frozen assets As a show of goodwill. The US has yet to officially respond to Iran’s request.

“We’ve seen these reports, and I’m not in a position to talk about what specific sanctions relief we can expect,” Gavito said. “That being said, the nature and order of sanctions relief is within negotiations. So the ball is really in Iran’s court here.”

“We are prepared through these negotiations that we have had in good faith a return to mutual compliance with the JCPOA,” he said. “We expect Iran to do the same. We think it’s in their best interest. But then again, the ball is really in their court.”

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