'Success' of Hajj: Tehran opens to dialogue with Riyadh. Saudi Arabia’s no
Saudi Foreign Minister says Tehran must "change its policies". Iran had thanked the Saudis for the "new approach" in dealing with the pilgrims of the Islamic Republic and hoped for "dialogue and negotiation."
Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Riyadh has rejected the Iranian proposal for dialogue at the conclusion of the Hajj, stressing that there are currently no conditions for improving diplomatic relations between the two countries. Tehran had thanked the Saudi kingdom for managing the largest pilgrimage to Mecca, adding that it could open the door to negotiations between the two great rivals in the Middle East.
"If Iran wants to have good relations with Saudi Arabia - stressed Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on a visit to London - it has to change its policies. It must comply with international law. " "the Hajj is a religious obligation - he added - and it is not about politics."
Iran (Shiite) and Saudi Arabia (Sunni) are on opposite sides in many of the most important issues that are currently shaking the Middle East chessboard, from the Syrian conflict to the Yemeni war. Tensions were sparked by the execution of a Shiite dignitary in the kingdom in January 2016, followed by the assault on the Saudi embassy in Iran and the subsequent closure of the diplomatic representation.
The incident caused the interruption of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Nonetheless, some 86,000 Iranian pilgrims took part in the major pilgrimage to Mecca this year, one of the five pillars of Islam, which ended last week.
Iran's offer was the first signal of détente after a 2015 accident triggered a "mass stampede" that caused the deaths of at least 2,300 people, of whom 464 were Iranian pilgrims.
"We thank Saudi Arabia - Ali Ghazi-Askar, Iran's leader for the organization of the Hajj, said," for adopting a new approach in dealing with Iranian pilgrims. " He added that "differences" remain between the two nations, but the important thing is "resolving differences through dialogue and negotiation". "Now - he concluded - after a successful Hajj it is fair that both parties negotiate to resolve bilateral issues in other fields."
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif cautiously remarks that there is still "no clear prospect for change" in relations between Riyadh and Tehran.
"If there is a development - he added - in the Saudi mentality, it will certainly be a positive development and will meet a positive response from Iran."