THE LEVANT – By Ghazanfar Ali Khan – Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers have met in New York for the first time, signaling a possible thaw in relations that have been strained for decades.
Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, a move that will undoubtedly go a long way in securing peace and security in the Middle East, as well as the region at large. Live footage of the Saudi-Iranian ministerial meeting was aired by several local and international TV channels, including Saudi TV, on Monday.
Prince Saud discussed key regional issues with Zarif.
Speaking after the meeting in reference to the advance of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Prince Saud said: “We are aware of the sensitivity of the crisis and the opportunity we have ahead of us. We can deal with the regional crisis successfully by using this precious opportunity to avoid the mistakes of the past.”
Prince Saud added: “The two countries (Saudi Arabia and Iran) are influential in the region and cooperation between them will have clear effects on the establishment of regional and global security.”
Speaking on his part, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif described his talks with Prince Saud as a “new page” in bilateral Tehran-Riyadh relations, expressing hope that the meeting would have a positive impact on efforts to restore peace in the region and the world at large.
Commenting on the talks between Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers, Saleh Al-Khathlan, deputy chief of the National Society of Human Rights, said: “The meeting is consistent with a new trend in the two countries’ relations, aimed at opening a new chapter of cooperation after years of tension.”
Al-Khathlan added: “This tension was caused by Iran’s belligerent behavior, particularly its intervention in the internal affairs of a number of Arab countries.”
He further said Riyadh and Tehran have “realized that new developments in the region, such as the rise in terrorism, necessitate change of policy toward each other.”