Saudi Arabia has dismissed any immediate possibility of reconciliation with Iran, saying the kingdom “does not see any seriousness by Tehran in dialogue and diplomatic cooperation”.
Last month, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had said that the two countries would soon exchange diplomatic visits after they severed diplomatic ties last year.
He told the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) that the visits could take place after the hajj pilgrimage ends in the first week of September.
However, Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir described the Iranian foreign minister’s statements about rapprochement with the kingdom as “ridiculous”, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters in London, he stated that “Iran must change its policies and stop terrorism and interference if it wants rapprochement and improvement of its relationship with the kingdom”.
“Iran is destabilising the region through Hezbollah and terrorist attacks, and al-Qaeda leaders in Iran have given orders to carry out attacks in the kingdom,” Al Jubeir said.
While Iranian officials said the successful hajj arrangements could pave the way for improved talks, Al Jubeir stressed that diplomatic contacts with Iran to complete hajj arrangements “do not represent normalisation of relations and have nothing to do with politics”.
Relations between Iran and Saudi have deteriorated in recent years, with the regional rivals supporting opposite sides in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
The kingdom cut diplomatic ties with Iran last year after thousands of Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran in January 2016. They were protesting Saudi’s decision to execute a prominent Shi’ite cleric in the kingdom.