Saudi and Iranian officials reportedly held direct talks in Baghdad over growing Saudi dissatisfaction with Tehran's policies

Possible rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia

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Different international media have published an alleged rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia in response to the latest measures adopted by Tehran after deciding to increase uranium enrichment, a decision that would contradict Saudi Arabia's demand to conclude a new nuclear agreement. This agreement would mean raising the level of guarantees for countries in the region and would include reducing Iran's missile programme.

The talks are said to have taken place in a context in which diplomatic relations between the two states have been severed for five years. Thus, these negotiations would be the first significant political talks between the two nations in a framework in which Joe Biden's administration seeks to revive the nuclear agreement that Iran signed with world powers in 2015.

However, Arab News denies through the source of a senior Saudi official that such talks have taken place between the two states. This would contradict a Financial Times report claiming meetings between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Similarly, the Iranian and Saudi governments have not commented on the matter. 

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Even so, sources claiming that such talks took place say that the meeting was held "to explore whether there is a way to ease the existing tension". On the issue of uranium enrichment, Saudi Arabia stressed that raising enrichment to this level cannot be considered part of a peaceful programme. In a statement, the Saudi foreign minister said that they are "following with concern the current developments in the Iranian programme, the latest of which was the announcement to raise the level of uranium enrichment to 60 per cent", thus, according to the minister, this move "cannot be considered for peaceful uses".

The statement also called on Tehran to "engage seriously in the ongoing negotiations, in accordance with the aspirations of the international community to harness its nuclear programme for peaceful purposes and under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, so as to achieve security and stability in the region and the world, and to limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction". In this sense, Saudi Arabia emphasised the need for the international community to reach an agreement to "improve monitoring and control measures and ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons or develop the necessary capabilities to do so".

Ambassador Raed Qarmali, director of the Saudi Foreign Ministry's Policy Planning Department, told Reuters that any nuclear deal with Iran that fails to effectively address the concerns of countries in the region will not succeed. Qarmali said, "We would like to make sure that at least the financial resources provided by the nuclear deal to Iran are not used to destabilise the region". Similarly, the Saudi official pledged that his country would do its utmost to ensure that there is a "nuclear deal that is the starting point and not the end point of this process".

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However, Saudi writer Ghazi-Al-Harithi denied Saudi Iranian relations in a statement to Al-Arab saying that it is unlikely 'that Saudi Arabia will adopt this approach, at least in the foreseeable future, and any direction in this direction will be when Iran takes positive steps forward' and noted that Arabia 'extended the hand of dialogue in previous times, but it is a conditional dialogue and Iran has not committed to it'. 

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