Saudi Arabia and Iran should ‘coexist’, Israel is a ‘potential ally’: Crown Prince

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the Kingdom and Iran are neighbors that cannot get rid of each other, adding that the solution is coexistence.

“[Iran and Saudi Arabia] are neighbors. Neighbors forever. We cannot get rid of them, and they can't get rid of us. So it’s better for both of us to work it out and to look for ways in which we can coexist,” the Crown Prince said, speaking to The Atlantic in a wide-ranging interview published on Thursday.

Highlighting the four-rounds of negotiation between the two countries, the Crown Prince said the statements they heard from Iranian leaders were welcomed in Saudi Arabia.

He added that the Kingdom will “continue through the details of the negotiation” and voiced hope that a position which is good for both countries and which paves way to a brighter future for both is reached.

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Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016, but talks between the two countries were launched last year hosted by Iraq, as global powers sought to salvage a nuclear pact with Tehran.

Asked about Iran’s nuclear program and whether he is in favor of reaching a nuclear deal with it, the Crown Prince said that any country’s possession of a nuclear bomb is “dangerous.”

“I believe any country around the world that has a nuclear bomb, that’s dangerous, regardless if it’s Iran or any other country. So, we don’t want to see that. And also, we don’t want to see a weak nuclear deal, because that’s going to end up with the same conclusion.”

The Vienna talks began in April 2021 to bring Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and facilitate a US return to the agreement. Washington withdrew from the deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, reimposing sweeping sanctions on Tehran.

Israel a ‘potential ally’

Commenting on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and on whether the Kingdom would follow suit and establish an open and diplomatic relationship with Israel, the Crown Prince said Saudi Arabia views Israel as a “potential ally,” noting however that several matters need to be resolved first.

“For us, we hope that the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is solved. We don’t look at Israel as an enemy, we look to them as a potential ally, with many interests that we can pursue together. But we have to solve some issues before we get to that.”

The UAE became the first Gulf state to normalize relations with Israel under a US-brokered normalization agreement, dubbed the “Abraham Accords,” in 2020. Gulf neighbor Bahrain then followed.

Saudi media and laws

The Crown Prince also noted that he welcomes the Saudi media’s criticism of the government’s work because it’s useful.

“I believe the Saudi media should criticize the government’s work, the government’s plans… because that’s healthy.”

He added that “objective writing without any ideological agenda” about Saudi Arabia, whether it’s by Saudi media or global media, is “super helpful.”

Asked about the Kingdom’s judicial system, the Crown Prince said he acknowledges it is not the best law in the world, adding, however, that many amendments have been made so far.

“I'm not telling you [our judiciary system] is the best law in the world. There is a long way to work on it, to change it through the cabinet, executive power, through the Shura Council. We’ve changed a lot and there is a long way to go for the rest until [we] reach a high standard globally.”

Read more:

Clock ticks on Iran nuclear talks with sides wrangling

Israel president hopes for more regional normalization on first UAE visit

Saudi minister of justice discusses judicial cooperation with British counterpart

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