Iranian, Saudi foreign ministers meet at a conference in Jordan

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with his Saudi counterpart at a regional conference in Jordan on Wednesday

This meeting is the first highest-level public contact between the two countries since they severed the diplomatic ties between two countries in 2016.

In a Tweet in Arabic, Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian listed his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud as one of several foreign ministers with whom he had the chance to hold “friendly talks” on the sidelines of the Jordan conference.

“My Saudi counterpart assured me of his country’s willingness to continue the dialogue with Iran,” Amir-Abdollahian tweeted.

In separate comments reported by Iran’s official IRNA news agency, Amir-Abdollahian said that Iran was ready to “resume” talks aimed at de-escalating tensions with its rival, a sentiment that he said was expressed by Saudi Arabia as well.

The meeting in Jordan, organized by France and Iraq and aimed at supporting stability in Iraq and the wider region, wrapped on Tuesday with no word of a bilateral meeting between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are at polar opposites over crises in regional hotspots, from the war in Yemen to Lebanon and Iraq.

In 2016 Riyadh severed ties with Iran after Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, following the execution of a Shia cleric in Saudi Arabia.

Separately, since April 2021, Iraq has hosted a series of fence-mending meetings between the two countries’ security officials. No meetings have been publicly announced since April 2022.

On Monday, Iraqi officials said talks in Baghdad were stalled because Iranian officials refused to meet with their Saudi counterparts at a time when Iran is convulsed by protests calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic.

Iran has blamed the demonstrations, which erupted in September following the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, on the US and Saudi Arabia.

In November, Iran’s intelligence minister said that Tehran’s “strategic patience” with Saudi Arabia was wearing thin, and threatened to retaliate against any move to destabilise the country.

On Tuesday, Esmail Ghaani, a top general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, referred to Saudi Arabia as “scum” and “not worthy of being an enemy”.

The conference in Jordan, which finished on Tuesday, was organised by France and Iraq to support stability in Iraq and the wider region.

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have ticked higher since the eruption of protests in Iran, with the Revolutionary Guards telling Saudi Arabia to control its media and the Iranian intelligence minister warning Riyadh there was no guarantee of Tehran continuing its “strategic patience.”