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Iraq PM visits Saudi Arabia and Iran in bid to revive talks between two sides

Iraq has previously hosted several rounds of talks between the two countries, which have had no diplomatic ties since 2016 
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, greets Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, at Jeddah's airport on 26 June 2022 (AFP)

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi arrived in Iran on Sunday, Iranian state TV reported, a day after he travelled to Saudi Arabia in a bid to revive talks between the regional rivals to ease years of hostility.

Over the past year, Iraq has hosted several rounds of talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have had no diplomatic ties since 2016. 

"We have agreed to work together to bring stability and calm to the region," Kadhimi said in a joint televised news conference with Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi.

Earlier, an Iranian official told Reuters that "the resumption of talks between Tehran and Riyadh will be discussed during Khadimi's trip to Iran".

The fifth round of talks were held in April, after Iran suspended the negotiations in March without giving a reason, however that decision was made following Saudi Arabia's execution of 81 men - its biggest mass execution in decades.

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Tehran condemned the executions that activists said included 41 Shia Muslims.

On Saturday, Kadhimi held talks with Saudi de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah that the state news agency SPA said included bilateral relations and "boosting security and stability in the region".

Earlier, an Iraqi cabinet minister said that Kadhimi believed that "reconciliation is near" between the regional foes and felt confident he could mend ties between the two countries. 

"The official visit... comes in the context of the talks that Riyadh and Tehran recently held in Baghdad," the source within the prime minister's cabinet said in a statement.

He said those talks "represented a road map for mending relations and returning to the right course of strengthening bilateral relations" between Saudi Arabia and Iran, supporting rival sides in conflict zones.

The source added that the visits are "not related to internal Iraqi political affairs and the talks about the formation of the new government have nothing to do with the visit".

For the last six years, Iran has had no diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran after the kingdom executed the Shia cleric Nimr al Nimr. 

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia rose further in 2019 after an assault on Saudi oil plants that Riyadh blamed on Iran, a charge Tehran denies.

However, earlier this year, Saudi Arabia's crown prince said his country and Iran would be "neighbours forever" and that it was "better for both of us to work it out and to look for ways in which we can coexist".

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