Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that the kingdom supports efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, as world leaders prepare to resume talks with Tehran to recommit to the nuclear deal signed in 2015.
King Salman also said in the videotaped speech: “The Kingdom stresses the importance of making the Middle East region free of all weapons of mass destruction, and from this standpoint, the Kingdom supports international efforts aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”
Rival allies in the region
Iran and Saudi Arabia have feuded for years, as they back rival allies in proxy wars in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere. The two countries cut diplomatic ties in 2016, but are holding talks this year aimed at calming tensions.
In a related context, the Saudi monarch said, “Iran is a neighboring country, and we hope that our initial talks with it will lead to tangible results to build confidence and pave the way for achieving the aspirations of our peoples in establishing cooperative relations based on adherence to the principles and resolutions of international legitimacy, respect for sovereignty, and non-interference in internal affairs.”
His comments came in the wake of a call from Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, to resume nuclear talks with world powers, leading to the lifting of US sanctions.
Meanwhile, the semi-official Mehr News Agency in Iran reported that the Saudi Foreign Minister met, on Tuesday, with his Iranian counterpart, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meetings.
rejection of initiatives
King Salman also said in his speech that the Yemeni Houthi group rejects peaceful initiatives to end the war, and added that Saudi Arabia will defend itself against ballistic missiles and armed drones.
The 85-year-old king added that the kingdom has taken great steps over the past five years, since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched an ambitious plan to diversify the economy away from dependence on oil and other changes.
The Saudi monarch also indicated that the kingdom continues to fight extremism. He said, “The Kingdom continues to confront extremist ideology based on hatred and exclusion, and the practices of terrorist groups and sectarian militias that destroy people and nations.”