Manama, Asharq Al-Awsat—Any dialogue with Tehran must be based on finding common ground and “credibility, trust and transparency,” Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar Bin Obeid Madani said on Saturday.
In comments on the sidelines of an international security conference in the Bahraini capital Manama, the minister said that Riyadh strongly believes in the concept of “dialogue” and has placed this at the heart of its foreign policy. He denied that Saudi Arabia has any issues with Tehran, but added that any dialogue between the two had to be based on these pre-conditions being met.
Madani’s comments came in response to a question from Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari about the possibility of Saudi-Iranian dialogue during a question and answer session following his speech to the third plenary session of the Manama Dialogue entitled “Countering Extremism in the Middle East.”
The minister praised the strategies pursued by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, saying that these are based on good-neighborliness and in line with the principles of international legitimacy and non-interface in the affairs of other states.
“When we consider events over the last couple of decades, we can find out that the GCC countries are dealing [with others] in line with good-neighborliness,” he said.
Madani affirmed that GCC member states, including Saudi Arabia, are ready to undertake high-level contacts with everybody who shares this strategy of non-interference, adding that the GCC is committed to maintaining the stability of all regional states.
He described Iran as an important country that must play a “pivotal” role in regional security and development, calling on Tehran to back up its words with action in terms of “sound and sustainable neighborly relations based on non-interference in others’ internal affairs,” according to Bahrain’s state news agency.
Regional security was at the top of the agenda at the Manama conference, not just regional relations with Iran but also the expanding presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as the deteriorating security situation in a number of Arab states, such as Yemen, Libya, and Lebanon.