Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has asserted his country welcomes efforts by intermediaries to set up talks with Saudi Arabia, which, he stressed, needs to kickstart good relations with its neighbours without relying on the US, as long as it wants to be secure.
"Buying weapons will not buy you security. If Saudi Arabia wants to be secure, the best way is to end the war in Yemen, to start good relations with its neighbours and the neighbourhood, and not to trust the US", Zarif told Turkish broadcaster TRT World in an interview released late on Friday.
He also put emphasis on their own preparedness for talks:
"We've always been open to discussing anything with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is our neighbour. We're going to be here together permanently", Mohammad Javad Zarif noted stressing they “don’t have any choice but to talk to each other”.
“We've never rejected any intermediary... We've always been open to mediation, and we've always been open to direct talks with our Saudi neighbours", the top diplomat noted when asked about an upcoming visit by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to Tehran.
Iran’s top diplomat brought up a peace plan, suggestively dubbed Hormuz Peace Endeavour (or HOPE), proposed by President Hassan Rouhani during the latter's recent speech at the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, noting the initiative calls on "all eight countries in the Persian Gulf region to join in an attempt to bring peace through dialogue". He expressed his hope for the peace plan to be developed:
"We hope it can be discussed and further enriched by our neighbours", he added.
According to diplomatic sources cited by Reuters, Khan will embark on an official one-day visit to Iran, where he is reportedly scheduled to talk to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Saudi Arabia, as part of Islamabad’s efforts to defuse increasing tensions in the Persian Gulf. He earlier mentioned the matter on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Khan previously claimed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had personally asked him to talk to Rouhani to help resolve the standoff in the region. Separately, last month, Khan also mentioned US President Donald Trump’s request to act as a peace ambassador between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Tensions between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia have spiralled downward ever since a drone attack was conducted on two Saudi Aramco facilities responsible for processing about half of the nation's daily oil output on 14 September. While the Yemen-based Houthi rebels, who have launched numerous, less successful drone attacks in the past, claimed responsibility for this one as well, Riyadh insisted Iran was behind it, with Tehran flatly denying any involvement.
In a parallel development in the region, a series of suspected sabotage attacks involving tankers off the United Arab Emirates’ coast have hit media headlines since mid-May, two weeks after the US announced plans to launch a strike group there.
In the most recent one, an explosion occurred aboard an Iranian tanker, Sabiti, causing the vessel to catch fire near the Saudi port city of Jeddah. Iranian officials suspect that the tanker was struck by two missiles, as several non-simultaneous explosions were said to have damaged two storerooms aboard the tanker leading to some of the estimated 1 million barrels of crude oil contained in the ship to leak into the Red Sea, where the tanker was sailing. There haven’t been any formal accusations regarding the attack, although Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi mentioned that Iran was investigating this act of “dangerous adventurism".