UNITED NATIONS/DUBAI: Saudi Arabia said on Monday it would restore ties with Iran when Tehran stopped meddling in the affairs of other countries and pledged that Riyadh would continue to work “very hard” to support bids for peace in Syria and Yemen despite the spat.
Saudi Arabia cut all ties with Iran on Sunday following the kingdom’s execution of prominent cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Protesters in Iran and Iraq marched for a third day to denounce the execution.
When asked what it would take for ties to be restored, Saudi U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi told reporters: “Very simple – Iran to cease and desist from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, including our own.”
“If they do so, we will of course have normal relations with Iran,” he said. “We are not natural-born enemies of Iran.”
On Monday, Bahrain and Sudan cut all ties with Iran, following Riyadh’s example. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Reuters Riyadh would also halt air traffic and commercial relations between the rival powers.
Jubeir blamed Iran’s “aggressive policies” for the diplomatic action, alluding to years of tension.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), home to hundreds of thousands of Iranians, partially downgraded its relations but the other Gulf Arab countries – Kuwait, Qatar and Oman – stayed above the fray.
Iran accused Saudi Arabia of using the attack on the embassy as an “excuse” to sever ties and further increase sectarian tensions.
CALLS FOR RESTRAINT
Crude importer China declared itself “highly concerned” with the developments, in a rare foray into Middle East diplomacy. The United States and Germany called for restraint.
Russia offered to mediate an end to the dispute but a U.S. senior State Department official said Iran and Saudi Arabia must work out their differences themselves.
“It is not going to be helpful for us to own this process, certainly to be seen to be driving it,” the U.S. official said. “They have to work this out between themselves if a solution to this tension is going to be long lasting and sustainable.”