Saudi foreign minister: ‘We will continue talks with Iran’

Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud
Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud © France 24

In an interview with FRANCE 24, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, said talks with Iran would continue and that an additional round of negotiations between the regional rivals was expected soon.

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Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said the four previous rounds of talks were merely “exploratory” rather than substantial, but said both sides were committed to engagement.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud expressed strong reservations, however, on Iran nuclear negotiations, which are set to resume in a few weeks, citing Tehran’s past deception about its nuclear activities.

Regarding a recent diplomatic spat with Lebanon, the foreign minister rejected criticism from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that Saudi Arabia had deliberately sparked the crisis by recalling its ambassador after a Lebanese minister called the war in Yemen “futile”. “There’s no crisis with Lebanon, there is a crisis in Lebanon,” he said, citing the dominance of Hezbollah.

The prince urged Lebanon’s political leadership to, once and for all, tackle the role of Hezbollah. “The endemic political and economic corruption that continues in Lebanon is why we see no use for our ambassador to be present in Lebanon right now,” he said.

He said Hezbollah seemed to be doing its utmost to block the probe into the deadly Beirut port explosion. “We call for an independent transparent investigation into this terrible tragedy,” he said.

The foreign minister also denied reports that Saudi Arabia was withdrawing troops from Yemen. The situation was deadlocked both militarily and diplomatically, he said, lamenting that the Houthis had not agreed to a Saudi proposal for a ceasefire earlier this year.