S Arabia crown prince seeks good relations with Iran

30 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says it wants “good relations” with its arch-rival Iran, reports BBC.

The prince told Al Arabiya TV that his country wanted Iran to help push the Middle East towards prosperity.

But he noted that it had an issue with “Iran’s negative behaviour”, citing its nuclear programme, missile launches and support for “outlaw militias”.

He added that Saudi Arabia was working with its regional and global partners “to find solutions to these problems”.

The prince’s comments come days after reports emerged that top Saudi and Iranian officials had held secret talks in Iraq in a bid to repair relations.

Saudi sources denied the reports. But Iran’s foreign ministry neither confirmed nor denied them, saying instead that it “always welcomed dialogue”.

Saudi Arabia, which sees itself as the leading Sunni Muslim power, and Iran, the largest Shia Muslim country, have been locked in a struggle for regional dominance for decades.

But in recent years, their rivalry has been exacerbated by proxy wars across the Middle East.

In Yemen, a Saudi-led coalition of mostly Sunni Arab states has been supporting pro-government forces in their war against the Iran-aligned rebel Houthi movement since 2015. Iran has denied that it is smuggling weapons to the Houthis, who have stepped up their missile and drone attacks on Saudi cities and oil infrastructure.

Saudi Arabia has also accused Iran of interfering in Lebanon and Iraq, where Iranian-backed Shia militias have amassed vast military and political influence; of attacking cargo and oil tankers in the Gulf; and of being behind a missile and drone strike in 2019 on Saudi oil installations.