Iran welcomes Saudi Arabia’s visit plan

A visit by the Iranian foreign minister could boost relations after years of strained ties with Saudi Arabia

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Stressing the need to boost relations after years of strained ties with Saudi Arabia, Iran on Wednesday welcomed a plan for its foreign minister to visit the kingdom.

The two countries have been at odds over Syria's civil war and the fallout from unrest in Bahrain.

See also: OPINION - Saudi Arabia’s desire to negotiate with Iran


Iran’s statement came after Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Tuesday said he had invited his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to visit the kingdom.

Iran's deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told the official IRNA news agency that Tehran had yet to receive Riyadh's formal invite, but a meeting was expected.

"We have not received the written invitation yet, but visits of the countries' foreign ministers are on the agenda of Iran," Amir Abdollahian said.

"We welcome negotiation and visits (aimed at) helping to resolve the regional problems, to clear up misunderstandings as well as expanding bilateral ties," he added.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel – who is currently visiting Saudi Arabia - promised U.S. allies in the Gulf that negotiations to contain Iran's nuclear program will not weaken their security.

He said Washington is hopeful of progress this week in the Iran deal-drafting talks in Vienna, adding that the negotiations "under no circumstances" will trade away Gulf security for concessions on Iran's nuclear program.

Hagel said that regardless of the outcome of the Iran negotiations, the U.S. will remain "postured and prepared" to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. He said there are about 35,000 U.S. troops in the Gulf region.

(With AP and AFP)

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