Iran welcomed on Monday the idea of talks with its regional rival Saudi Arabia, amid reports that the two Gulf powers were directly talking about bilateral relations and hopes that the talks about the Iranian nuclear deal have made progress.
Iran “has always welcomed dialog with the Saudi kingdom and sees it as beneficial to the people of both countries and regional peace and stability,” Bloomberg quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh as saying at a news conference on Monday.
Over the weekend, the Financial Times reported, citing three officials, that Saudi Arabia and Iran held direct talks in Iraq this month. The talks reportedly involved the proxy war in Yemen and the recent increase of attacks from the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen on oil facilities and oil infrastructure targets in Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi-led Arab coalition has been fighting the Houthi movement in Yemen since 2015.
Khatibzadeh declined to either confirm or deny talks with Saudi Arabia were held, while a senior Saudi official denied to FT that any talks with Iran had been held.
Potential de-escalation of the Iran-Saudi relations could defuse some of the tension in the Middle East, a critical oil-producing region, which also hosts the most important oil chokepoints along the sea routes.
Last week, the Houthi rebels from Yemen claimed yet another attack on Saudi Aramco facilities, involving 17 drones and two ballistic missiles. Three weeks earlier, a petroleum products distribution terminal in Jizan, Saudi Arabia, was attacked, the Kingdom said, blaming the Houthi movement and vowing to take measures to preserve the stability of the global oil supply.
Reports of Saudi-Iranian talks come a day after Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi said about the talks in Vienna about the nuclear deal that “After days of intensive talks, it appears that we are now on the right track. But difficult way to go.”
United States National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, told Fox News on Sunday that “the talks in Vienna have been constructive in the sense that there is real effort underway there.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:
- Many Drilled U.S. Wells Will Never Be Completed
- Big Oil Is Dead Set On Exploiting The Wind Power Boom
- Big Oil Set To Return To Profit In 2021
It would also lead to an end of the war an in Yemen and attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure and installation. It will certainly improve the atmosphere inside OPEC+ and strengthen further its ability to support oil prices and stabilize the global oil market.
However, based on past experience, an improvement in Saudi-Iranian relations will be a tactical move and therefore short-lived since Saudi Arabia has no intention now or in the future to disentangle itself from the United States.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London