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Iran Says Talks On Reaching 'Common Understanding' With Saudi Arabia Taking Place In 'Good Atmosphere'

Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh (file photo)

Iran says ongoing talks on reaching a "common understanding" with regional rival Saudi Arabia are taking place in a “good atmosphere.”

Last month, media reports revealed that Iranian and Saudi officials met in Baghdad in April, their first high-level meeting since Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran in 2016. Ties between the two countries were cut in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following the kingdom's execution of a revered Shi'ite cleric.

"Talks are still continuing in a good atmosphere," ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a press conference on May 31. "We hope these talks can achieve a common understanding between Iran and Saudi Arabia."

The talks in Baghdad, facilitated by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, remained secret until the Financial Times reported that a first meeting was held on April 9.

Khatibzadeh confirmed the talks on May 10, saying their purpose was "both bilateral and regional," but stressed it was "too soon" to disclose any details.

"De-escalation and [establishing] ties between two great Islamic countries in the Persian Gulf region is to the benefit of both nations," he said at the time.

Iran in late April welcomed a "change of tone" from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman after he called for a "good and special relationship" with Tehran.

The regional rivals have backed opposite sides of several regional conflicts, from Syria to Yemen, where a Saudi-led military coalition is fighting Huthi rebels.

Iran backs the Huthis, who are battling the coalition that intervened in Yemen's war in support of an internationally recognized government in 2015.

With reporting by AFP