Tehran to Riyadh: Let us resolve 'differences as soon as possible', encourage 'rapprochement'

The Iranian ambassador to Iraq reveals: Soleimani was carrying a message aimed at re-establishing relations with the Saudis. Rouhani ready to "return to commitments" foreseen in the nuclear program. The Mashad court sentenced eight dissidents and activists to 72 years in prison in total for asking for Khamenei's resignation.

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iran wants to resolve differences with the Gulf nations "as soon as possible", in particular Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to the ambassador of the Islamic Republic in Iraq Iraj Masjedi.

He added that Gen. Qassem Soleimani, killed by a US raid on Baghdad, was carrying a message from Tehran aimed at a possible "rapprochement" with Riyadh. This news confirms, once again, the rumors of an attempt by Tehran to "overcome the divisions" of the recent past.

Iran, Masjedi points out, welcomes "the role of Iraq in trying to resolve the differences" and "the challenges" with the Saudis and the emirates. Referring to Soleimani's death, he adds that on the same day he was to have illustrated Tehran's position "in the fight against terrorism and in achieving peace and security in the region".

For some time now, the Islamic Republic, the main Shiite power in the world, has been trying to mend relations with the Sunni "rivals" of Saudi Arabia, thanks also to the mediation of the Sultanate of Oman. However, the positions are still distant and the Saudi officials themselves have declared that they are not aware of messages brought by Soleimani with a view to resuming relations with Tehran.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says that the country is ready to "return to its commitments" made in the context of the 2015 nuclear deal (the JCPOA), if the other stakeholders also do the same.

In a note released after the meeting with EU foreign policy representative Josep Borrell, the president's office confirms that the Islamic Republic will continue to collaborate with nuclear inspectors "if the situation does not change".

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is still ready for interaction and cooperation with the European Union for resolving issues and, whenever the opposite side completely upholds their commitments, Iran will return to its commitments,” Rouhani said. At the same time, Tehran recalls that all the steps taken so far are within the parameters set by the nuclear agreement, are reversible and that the program is still controlled today by experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (AIEA).

Finally, on the domestic front, the news of the sentence - issued by the Mashad court - of eight dissidents and activists to a total of 72 years in prison, for asking for the resignation of the Iranian supreme leader, the grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The defendants, along with six others, wrote an open letter last year asking for a step back from the country's highest political and religious position. Signatories include ex-rector of Tehran University Mohammad Maleki, documentary filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad and Gohar Eshqi, whose son was tortured and killed while in prison. And again Hashem Khastar, activist and trade unionist at the forefront of defending teachers' rights. The judiciary issued charges of "attempt to subvert the regime" and preparations for a "revolt".