Feb 16, 2020, 2:23 PM
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Zarif: Iran ready to hold talks with Saudi Arabia

Tehran, Feb 16, IRNA – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reaffirmed Tehran's readiness to negotiate with all neighbors including the Saudi Arabia.

Iran sees security of neighbors as its own, Zarif said in an interview held on Saturday afternoon with Lyse Doucet- an international correspondent- at 2020 Munich Security Conference in Germany on Feb 14-16.

During the interview, Zarif said after the Jan 3 assassination of the IRGC Commander Lt General Qasem Soleimani by the US forces in Iraq, Tehran received a message from Riyadh showing willingness to hold talks with Iran.

Iran sent a positive response to Saudi Arabia's message, but received no more reply from the neighboring country, Zarif added.

He reiterated that Iran is not after any tensions with its neighbors but rather attaches importance to its neighbors' security and is ready to hold talks with them from just now.

Zarif believed that the Persian Gulf region in south of Iran belonged to all neighbors, and the regional countries should understand that the US and Israel cannot bring about security to "our region."

The regional nations are the only ones capable of ensuring regional security and stability, Zarif stressed.

He further advised the neighbors to remain determined to relieve tensions as there are many ways to do so if they really want to.

Asked whether Iran has received any positive signals from Saudi Arabia to cool the tensions or follow the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) initiative, the foreign minister said Tehran has received nothing.

The Iranian president addressing the 74th UNGA session on September 25 presented Hormuz Peace Endeavor HOPE initiative, calling for collective cooperation of the Persian Gulf coastal states to safeguard peace in the Persian Gulf, Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz.

As Zarif said, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Iraq have responded to the HOPE initiative, but no signals have been received from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain yet.

Saudi Arabia and UAE are after tension in "our region," he added.

Also, in response to the proposal presented by the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for direct talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Tehran expressed that it is ready to do so, Zarif noted.

At the end of the interview, Zarif talked of the funeral procession of Lt General Soleimani and the claims that those who held the ceremony in different cities of different countries were proxy forces, Zarif said they were just ordinary people who loved the martyred general.

Meanwhile, they were angry about the US measures, said Zarif adding that they were not only from Iraq, but from India, Italy and Russia who went out to the streets while carrying Gen Soleimani's photos.

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