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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Iran's talk of rapprochement 'laughable' says Saudi foreign minister

Adel al-Jubeir says Tehran's current actions show they are not serious about being good neighbours

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir met with Boris Johnson during his time in London
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir met with Boris Johnson during his time in London

Iran’s talk of a possible rapprochement was laughable, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister told reporters in London on Tuesday.

Adel al-Jubeir said Iran would have to change its policies for any rapprochement.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, last month said they would soon exchange diplomatic visits after the regional rivals severed diplomatic ties last year.

“The comments of the foreign minister are laughable,” al-Jubeir said. “If Iran wants to have good relations with Saudi Arabia, it has to change its policies. It has to respect international law.”

“At this time, we do not see... that they’re serious about wanting to be a good neighbour,” al-Jubeir said

Iran’s Zarif was quoted by the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) that diplomatic visits could take place after the Hajj pilgrimage.

But al-Jubeir said diplomatic exchanges with Iran over arrangements for the Hajj did not represent a normalisation of relations and that such contacts had nothing to do with politics.

“We had the Hajj season, and when we have the Hajj, we try not to politicise it... But this is not normalisation,” he said. “The meetings around the Hajj, have nothing to do with the politics. It’s a religious issue.”

Riyadh has voiced concerns about Tehran’s support for the Syrian regime, its role in propping up the Houthi rebels in Yemen, in addition to its support for some sectarian militias in Iraq.

As for the Qatar crisis, Al-Jubeir made clear that the Arab quartet boycotting Doha anticipate the crisis continuing for some time. He stated that if the current Qatar crisis continued for two years then “so be it.”

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) severed ties with Qatar in June over Doha’s support for terrorists and extremist groups.

Al-Jubeir also met with British foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

During the meeting, they discussed common issues and strengthening the historical strategic relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.