Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Iran after the visit of MBS – Al Jazeera English

The Iraqi leader is trying to facilitate the re-establishment of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Tehran, Iran – Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi arrived in Tehran on Sunday at the head of a high-level delegation to talk to Iranian officials after his visit to Saudi Arabia.

Iranian state media portrayed al-Kadhimi, who was also accompanied by his Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein and others, receiving an official welcome from President Ebrahim Raisi at the Saadabad Palace in the capital.

The visit comes after the Iraqi leader was personally received by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a short trip to Jeddah on Saturday night.

Al-Kadhimi’s office said he and the heir to the throne discussed “efforts to foster a peaceful and constructive dialogue” and issues “that would contribute to supporting and strengthening regional security and stability” alongside bilateral relations.

The Iraqi prime minister’s visit comes in line with his previous efforts to facilitate talks between Tehran’s regional enemies and Riyadh, who support opposing sides in the Yemeni war that has lasted more than seven years.

During a press conference following their talks, Raisi and al-Kadhimi did not specifically mention Saudi Arabia, but spoke of improving relations across the region.

“Normalization of relations with the Zionist regime and the presence of foreigners will not be good for the region and will not solve any problems,” Raisi said, talking about Israel, standing next to al-Qadhi.

Both officials said they agreed on the fact that the continuation of the war in Yemen is not the way forward, and that only dialogue can resolve the conflict, which has caused a humanitarian crisis.

In that sense, they renewed their support for the truce in Yemen, which was negotiated by the UN.

Both leaders also welcomed the bilateral relations between their two countries and noted that some of the talks between their delegations were dedicated to their improvement. The talks focused on removing barriers to financial transactions, facilitating religious pilgrimages and working on the railway connecting Shalamcheh in Iran and Basra in Iraq, they said.

Al-Kadhimi met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian later Monday and discussed Saudi Arabia, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Amirabdollahian reportedly thanked the Iraqi prime minister for his mediation efforts, saying: “The Islamic Republic of Iran wants nothing but good for the region and supports the reopening of embassies in the capitals of both countries.”

Direct negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, hosted by Baghdad, began in April 2021.

They have held five rounds of talks so far, but have yet to agree on how to re-establish formal diplomatic relations that were severed in 2016. At the time, protesters stormed Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran after Saudi Arabia, which is predominantly Sunni, executed a famous Shiite religious leader.

After a fifth round of talks in April, a media outlet close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, which took a seat in the talks, said there was a chance the two countries could soon host a meeting of their foreign ministers.

So far, the only effective outcome of the talks appears to have been the reopening of the Iranian office at the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

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