Iran, Tehran (AP) — Iraqi Caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa Arkadimi arrived in Iran on Sunday, state television reported on a visit aimed at resuming talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran via Baghdad.
According to the report, Iran's President Ebrahim Raishi officially accepted Arkadimi, who will meet with other Tehran officials. He was the first foreign leader to visit Iran after Raisi came to power in August.
Arkadimi's office said it had arrived in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah on Saturday for an official visit to meet with Saudi officials. He has been his second visit to Saudi Arabia since taking office as Prime Minister in May 2020.
Iran, the world's largest Islamic nation, and Saudi Arabia, the Sunni power, broke diplomatic relations in 2016, following Saudi Arabia. The prominent Shiite priest Nimuru Arnimur was executed. Angry Iranians protesting the execution have attacked two Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, fueling long-standing hostility between nations.
Saudi Arabia's talks aimed at relieving long-standing tensions between local enemies began quietly in the Iraqi capital in 2021. Saudi Arabia sought a way to end a cruel war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The conflict caused one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world, resulting in bombs from rebel drones and missiles pouring into Saudi Arabia's airports and oil facilities.
In addition to Yemen, Iran and Saudi Arabia are supporting the other side in conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East. Iraq borders both Iran and Saudi Arabia and is often captured in the midst of proxy wars between the two countries.
After the fifth and final meeting in Baghdad in April, the meeting was interrupted again as tensions in the Middle East increased.
Arkadimi emphasized that he wanted a balanced relationship with his two neighbors. Improving relations with Saudi Arabia was an important policy of his administration when he took office.
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