TEHRAN (Iran News) – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Friday Iran sets no preconditions for talks with its neighbors in the region as he hit back at Saudi Arabia that had urged the Islamic Republic to change its behavior and act “normally” before any dialogue.
With his characteristic sharp tone, Zarif took swipes at Saudi Arabia over its five-year military intervention in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside its diplomatic mission in Istanbul.
“‘Normal’ countries don’t operate abattoirs disguised as consulates. ‘Normal’ countries don’t attack their neighbors, cause a humanitarian crisis, and refuse to talk,” Zarif tweeted. “Nonetheless, WE don’t set preconditions for dialog.”
Zarif had tweeted on Thursday that Iran remained open for talks with the neighbors in the region.
“Iran remains open to talks with its neighbors, and we declare our readiness to participate in any complementary work that is in the interest of the region, and we welcome any step that restores hope to its people and brings them stability and prosperity,” Zarif said in a tweet on Thursday.
The tweet was in Arabic, which suggests it was addressed to the Persian Gulf littoral Arab countries. It came a day after Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said Riyadh was ready for talks with Tehran “but it is really up to Iran.”
In Davos, Prince Faisal said the kingdom was open to talks with Tehran and that “many countries” had offered to mediate.
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said Riyadh, which holds the G20 presidency role, was calling for talks.
“If you look at history, we in this region have managed to weather through worse geopolitical situations, including actual, real wars,” he said.
“We in Saudi have to focus on the economy and reform … We firmly believe the disputes can only be resolved by dialogue.”
But Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said after Zarif’s tweet that Iranians have to change its behavior before Saudi Arabia would be willing to sit down and have a dialogue with them.
“The Iranians have to show good faith, the Iranians have to change their behavior and their policies,” Jubeir told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“If they want to be treated like a normal country, they should act as one,” he continued.
Zarif skipped this year’s Davos, but Iran was still a hot topic for many Western and Middle Eastern powers hoping for detente less than three weeks after the United States assassinated Iran’s top general.
Zarif, normally a regular at the World Economic Forum, canceled on Monday, with his ministry citing program changes. Organizers of the annual gathering in the Swiss ski resort did not comment on the reason given.
While Iran was absent from the corridors of the conference center, there was an urge for de-escalation among those present.
Iraqi President Barham Salih said he had a productive conversation on Iran with US President Donald Trump, who made few public comments on the issue while in Davos, after signaling this month he was ready to de-escalate the situation.
“We had a very candid conversation (about) the need for basically restraint, calming things down… This is not time for another conflict,” Salih said on Wednesday.
Qassem Soleimani’s assassination in a US drone attack in Baghdad left regional analysts concerned it could spark a war.
Iran responded to Soleimani’s assassination by launching missiles at US targets in Iraq, although it flagged that the attack was coming and no US soldiers were killed.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said he had told Trump that a war with Iran would be “a disaster for the world”. It is not clear how the US president responded.
Reuters and CNBC contributed to this story.
- source : Iran Daily, Irannews