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Russia ready to invite Saudi, Iranian FMs for talks: Reports
January 5, 2016, 6:05 am

A man reads the newspaper showing the photo of the prominent Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Sanaa, Yemen, Jan. 3, 2016 [Xinhua]

A man reads the newspaper showing the photo of the prominent Shi’ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Sanaa, Yemen, Jan. 3, 2016 [Xinhua]

Moscow could be gearing up for a major role in de-escalating tensions between Riyadh and Tehran, media reports quoting unnamed Russian officials suggest.

Russia is ready to invite the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers to Moscow for negotiations, a diplomatic source told Russian agency TASS on Monday.

“We express sincere regrets over the escalation of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia,” the source said. “Russia has always been in favor of dialogue and constructive contacts. Therefore, if partners in Riyadh and Tehran are interested in our role, we are ready to give mediator services to restore mutual understanding on all issues.” “We are ready to invite the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers to Moscow,” the source said.

“If our partners in Iran and Saudi Arabia are ready and willing (to come), our initiative remains in force. Russia has been always interested in “mutual understanding between Shiites and Sunnis and the unity of the Muslims world,” the official added.

A Russian foreign ministry source also told AFP on Monday that “Russia is ready to serve as an intermediary between Riyadh and Tehran”.

Saudi Arabia announced Sunday it was severing its ties to Iran after its embassy in Tehran was firebombed in protest at the kingdom’s execution of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Nimr was a force behind 2011 anti-government protests in eastern Saudi Arabia, where Shiites have long complained of marginalisation.

Riyadh told its diplomats to leave the Islamic Republic within 48 hours.

While Saudi ally Bahrain said it was severing diplomatic ties with Iran, both UAE and Sudan said they were downgrading diplomatic relations with Tehran.

Attacks on diplomatic missions can never be a legal means of protest, Russia said on Monday.

Russia’s foreign ministry expressed “serious concern” about the worsening situation in the region and called on the two countries and others “to show restraint and avoid any steps that would complicate the situation and lead to a rise in tensions”.

During his visit to Tehran in November, Putin said that Russia’s military strategy in Syria would have been impossible without Iran’s help.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has pledged to increase cooperation with Russia to destroy what he called a common enemy.

“Whereas some countries are only indulging in anti-terrorist oratory and taking demonstrative actions, our two countries have proved that this issue can be addressed seriously,” he said in November in reference to Western powers who have failed to weaken ISIL in the past 18 months.

 

TBP and Agencies

 

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