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May 19, 2024 3:20 pm

Iran’s Raisi ‘welcomes’ invitation by Saudi king: official

Iran’s President-elect Ebrahim Raisi has “welcomed” an invitation from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to attend talks aimed at reducing tensions between the two countries, according to an Iranian government official.

The invitation comes amid ongoing tensions between the two regional powers, which have been at odds for years over a range of issues, including regional conflicts, oil exports, and religious differences.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are currently engaged in a proxy war in Yemen, where the Saudi-led coalition is fighting Houthi rebels who are backed by Iran. The conflict has led to a humanitarian crisis in the country, with millions of people on the brink of famine.

In a statement, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said that Raisi welcomed the invitation from King Salman and expressed Iran’s readiness to engage in dialogue with Saudi Arabia.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes any initiative that would lead to the de-escalation of tensions in the region and the promotion of regional security and stability,” Rabiei said.

He also called on Saudi Arabia to “abandon its support for extremist groups in the region,” a reference to the kingdom’s alleged support for Sunni militants fighting against Iran-backed forces in Syria and Iraq.

Saudi Arabia has not yet confirmed the invitation, but it is seen as a positive development in the strained relations between the two countries. Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran following the execution of a prominent Shia cleric by the Saudi government.

The invitation also comes as Iran is seeking to negotiate a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which the US withdrew from in 2018. The talks have been ongoing in Vienna, but have been complicated by the presidential transition in Iran and the upcoming elections in Iran’s neighbor, Israel.

Overall, the invitation from Saudi Arabia could be a sign of a potential thaw in relations between the two countries, which could have positive implications for regional stability and peace.

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