lundi 16 avril 2018

Iran and Saudi Arabia 'unlikely' to pivot back to diplomacy

L'Iran et l'Arabie saoudite "peu susceptibles" de revenir à la diplomatie

Regional rivals enjoyed 'amicable ties' in the 1990s, but analysts say current geopolitics point to more confrontation.

Iran's Rouhani and Saudi Arabia's King Salman have yet to meet
and discuss the future of the region [File: AP]

In December 1991, Iran's then-President Hashemi Rafsanjani and Saudi Arabia's then-Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud met on the sideline of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Senegal.

In a rare diplomatic gambit, the two agreed to hold talks on restoring ties - crippled for years following the Iran-Iraq War and the deaths of hundreds of Iranians during the 1987 Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.

Rafsanjani dispatched Iran's ambassador to Germany, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, to negotiate with the Saudi crown prince, who would later on become king.

After an initial meeting in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, Mousavian travelled to Riyadh for more rounds of talks with Abdullah at his private residence.

Three nights of intense negotiations, covering issues on regional security and bilateral relations, produced a deal that paved the way to a period of detente.

Mousavian said no less than Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Saudi Arabia's then-King Fahd gave the deal a stamp of approval.

Recalling to Al Jazeera his 1996 meeting with King Fahd, Mousavian said the Saudi monarch was "happy to build bilateral relations" with Iran, but was "very disappointed" that Iraq could not join in the alliance, in the aftermath of the first Gulf War.

"The accords secured amicable ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia for the next decade," Mousavian said, pointing to increased cooperation in security and t...

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