Iran says it wishes to cooperate with Saudi over Syria

Iran says it wishes to work with archrival Saudi Arabia to bring stability to Syria

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Muhammed Cevad Zarif on a press conference in Tahran, February 2, 2016.

Updated Feb 13, 2016

Iran and Saudi Arabia must overcome years of strained relations and work for stability in Syria and the Middle East, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said on Friday.

The archrivals recently came together in peace talks over Syria for the first time in months.

The Iranian foreign minister surprisingly referred to Riyadh as "our Saudi brothers."

Mohammed Javad Zarif said he wanted to stop the bickering and had a simple message: "We need to work together."

"Iran and Saudi Arabia cannot exclude each other from the region," he said.

"We are prepared to work with Saudi Arabia ... I believe Iran and Saudi Arabia can have shared interests in Syria," he said at the Munich Security Conference.

The two oil producers are on opposing sides in the war in Syria and there have been increasingly bad-tempered exchanges between the conservative Sunni-ruled kingdom and the revolutionary Shiite theocracy.

Relations between Iran and Saudis worsened after the Saudi authorities executed prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in January. The execution produced anger in Iran and was followed by attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, causing Saudi Arabia to cut all ties with the country.

Zarif said he was inspired from Iran's historic nuclear deal with world powers last July. He said that the agreement and the lifting of sanctions that has followed showed how deep-seated problems can be resolved through diplomacy.

"We have a common opportunity, common challenges, common threats," Zarif said, adding that it was time to "set aside the past and have a new narrative, a new paradigm for the future."

The Munich Security Conference lasted for six hours, in which regional powers together with world powers discussed solutions to Syria’s civil war.

They agreed for a "cessation of hostilities" to take effect in a week's time.

There was no consensus on the future of Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad. Iran and Russia are backing Assad with military assistance.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia, alongside with the US and western allies, all agreed on the departure of Assad in order to bring a solution to the five year-long civil war.

However, Russia and Iran continue to back the Assad regime with military assistance.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir spoke in Munich before Zarif and made no references to Iran in his speech.

He told EU ministers and diplomats that the Syrian Regime leader would be removed. "That's our objective and we will achieve it," he said.

TRTWorld, TRTWorld and agencies