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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Iran claims it hopes to work with Saudi to end Yemen, Syria conflicts

Iran said it hopes to work with Saudi Arabia to end the war in Yemen and the six-year conflict in Syria, in which Tehran and Riyadh support rival groups

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres (R) and Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif exchange hand shakes before their meeting on Monday at the UN headquarters. AP / Bebeto Matthews
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres (R) and Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif exchange hand shakes before their meeting on Monday at the UN headquarters. AP / Bebeto Matthews

Iran said it hopes to work with Saudi Arabia to end the war in Yemen and the six-year conflict in Syria, in which Tehran and Riyadh support rival groups.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting with government forces against the Houthi rebels in Yemen accuses Iran of sending the militants advanced weapons and army advisers.

"We certainly hope that if we don't agree with each other about the situation in Yemen or about the situation in Syria we can still work with each other in order to bring those situations to an end," said Iranian foreign minister Mohammed Zarif, who was in New York for a high-level UN meeting on sustainable development.

Meanwhile, in Syria, Iran has thrown its support behind the forces of president Bashar Al Assad.

In response as to whether Mr Zarif was worried about a direct confrontation with Saudi Arabia, he said: "We certainly hope not … We don't have to fight; we don't need to fight. We don't need to try to exclude each other from the scene in the Middle East."

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut all diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5 following accusations that Doha was financing extremist and terrorist group as well as allying with Iran. Qatar denies the accusations.

"Iran is a serious partner for all these countries in fighting a common enemy because we believe at the end of the day … these extremist forces are as much a threat against us, but even more a threat against them," Zarif said.

Yemen has been divided by civil war since 2014 when the Iran-allied rebels seized power in the capital Sanaa. A Saudi Arabia-led coalition intervened in March 2015 to reinstate the internationally-recognised president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi after he fled Sanaa from the Houthis, who are fighting in an alliance with troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

More than 8,000 people have been killed in Yemen's conflict, most of them civilians, since 2015, according to the World Health Organisation.

The country has also been hit by a deadly cholera outbreak and is on the edge of famine.

* Additional reporting by Reuters

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