London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iran’s foreign ministry spokeswoman denied on Tuesday that potential improvements in Iran-US ties would damage relations between Tehran and Riyadh.
“A discussion over the issue in the media is normal and obviously not every approach [by Iran] in interaction with other countries is against the interests of another country,” Marzieh Afkham told reporters on Tuesday during her weekly press briefing in Tehran.
In the past few days, speculation has grown that a recent Saudi rejection of a coveted two-year term on the UN Security Council was an expression of anger at the failure of the international community to end the war in Syria and recent progress towards an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.
In addition, according to the Reuters news agency, an unnamed source said that the director of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, told European diplomats last week that the kingdom would reconsider its close strategic ties with the US in light of US inaction on Syria and the events of the “Arab Spring,” as well as its policy towards Iran.
US Secretary of State John Kerry was quick to play down concerns and said that he had discussed Riyadh’s concerns in a meeting with Saudi foreign minister Saud Al-Faisal in Paris.
“I have great confidence that the United States and Saudi Arabia will continue to be the close and important friends and allies that we have been,” Reuters quoted Kerry as saying.
However, speculation about US-Saudi friction has continued, with the side-effect of leading some to question if relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran will be affected if reports of Saudi pressure on the US to maintain sanctions on Iran were proved correct.
According to Afkham, “if there is a media speculation on this, we have to ensure that not every development [in Iran-US ties], means a change in cooperation [between Iran] and other countries,” Mehr news agency reported.
“In many analyses, only the empty half of the glass is considered…Saudi authorities sent a congratulatory message before President Rouhani’s inauguration ceremony and a Saudi representative was present during the ceremony,” Afkham said.
Afkham was responding to a question regarding a recent clash on the Iran-Pakistan border during which 14 Iranian border guards were killed by an allegedly Saudi backed terrorist group, with journalists asking if the attack had occurred due to poor relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
“The relations [between Iran and Saudi Arabia] are moving based on a logical trend,” she said, adding that “we should be more optimistic on development on mutual relations with Saudi Arabia, as there are more common fields for cooperation.”
Earlier in June, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz congratulated new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on winning the Iranian presidential elections.
The king praised comments by Rouhani in which he said was eager to improve relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat in June, the Iranian president said that he intended to improve Saudi–Iranian relations and establish “mutual respect and mutually beneficial arrangements and cooperation to enhance security and restore stability in the region.”