Saudi, Iran held talks to ease tensions: sources | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 19, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:46 AM, April 19, 2021

Saudi, Iran held talks to ease tensions: sources

Saudi and Iranian officials held direct talks this month in a bid to ease tensions between the two foes, a senior Iranian official and two regional sources said, as Washington works to revive a 2015 nuclear pact with Tehran and end the Yemen war.

The April 9 meeting in Iraq, first reported by the Financial Times yesterday, did not lead to any breakthrough, the Iranian official and one of the regional sources familiar with the matter said.

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The regional source said the meeting focused on Yemen, where a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been battling the Iran-aligned Houthi group since March 2015.

"This was a low-level meeting to explore whether there might be a way to ease ongoing tensions in the region," the Iranian official said, adding that it was based on Iraq's request.

Iraq's prime minister held talks with Saudi Arabia's crown prince earlier this month and also visited the United Arab Emirates.

The second regional source said the talks also touched on Lebanon, which is facing a political vacuum amid a dire financial crisis.

Sunni Gulf power Saudi Arabia cut ties with Shia Iran in January 2016 following the storming of its embassy in Tehran in a row over Riyadh's execution of a Shia Muslim cleric. A Western diplomat in the region said the United States and Britain were informed in advance of the Saudi-Iran talks.

Riyadh last week called for a nuclear deal with stronger parameters and for involvement of Gulf states, which are concerned about Iran's missiles programme and its support for regional proxies. 

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