Jan 24, 2021 08:43 UTC
  • Iran would welcome change of approach by Riyadh, if genuine: Foreign Ministry

Iran’s Foreign Ministry says Saudi Arabia has begun to realize that its aggressive foreign policy has been a failure and appears to be revising some aspects of it accordingly, adding that the Islamic Republic would welcome any genuine change of approach by Riyadh.

“It looks like the Saudi officials have begun reforming some of their policies concerning interaction with some of the Persian Gulf’s littoral countries, having understood that war and bloodshed does not help them out any more, and also having despaired of their former allies,” Spokesman Sa'eed Khatibzadeh said in remarks to ISNA that the news agency published on Sunday.

Khatibzadeh said if Riyadh has seriously put reforms on its agenda and come to the conclusion that “regional cooperation” was the best way out of the region’s problems, the Islamic Republic would then be the first country to welcome the change.

“We have always emphasized that the regional countries should arrive at a common understanding regarding the regional problems,” he said, adding that such understanding would help establish a “security mechanism” that could be used to govern the region, Khatibzadeh noted.

However, the kingdom has so far left Iran’s proposals for negotiation and resolution of standing differences between the countries unanswered, the official lamented.

Khatibzadeh reminded that Saudi Arabia tows a long record of violations against the region, from the war on Yemen and support for regional militancy and Takfiri terrorism to a 2017 Saudi-led regional blockade of Qatar.

Iran, by contrast, has been leading a responsible and at the same time lenient approach towards the regional issues and has exercised self-restraint in the face of misconduct by Saudi Arabia and others, he said.

Even if Riyadh might have some concerns, “the answer is not war,” the official said.

The spokesman said that Tehran has always invited the kingdom to negotiation. He cited a proposal by President Hassan Rouhani, dubbed Hormuz Peace Initiative (HOPE), which is designed to enable reconciliation and further cooperation among all countries of the region, as a case in point.

“Some concerns may be delusional and lead to foreign intervention in the region,” he said, adding, “We are even prepared to discuss these delusional and notional concerns.”

Nevertheless, “the solution is in the Saudis’ hands and they can solve this issue whenever they choose to,” the official noted.

Separately, Khatibzadeh addressed the issue of a Korean tanker that was impounded by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy on January 4 for endangering the marine ecosystem.

The official reminded that the capture was a purely technical matter, and that Iran had urged Seoul – which has asked Qatar to mediate the vessel’s release – not to try to resolve the issue “through political channels.”

MT Hankuk Chemi’s crew have been provided with medical care and the highest level of consular service, he said, and noted that the vessel’s captain even talked with Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun, who had recently travelled to Tehran to address the issue of the ship among other things.