Iran's foreign minister says Riyadh sending mixed messages on normalisation

Iranian Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian attends a press conference after his meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Berri, in Beirut
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian is seen during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, October 7, 2021. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/File Photo

BEIRUT, March 24 (Reuters) - Iran has received contradictory statements from Saudi Arabia on the renewal of bilateral relations, the country's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Thursday.

"The Islamic Republic welcomes a natural return to bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia. However, mixed messages have been received from the Kingdom. We expect that the Saudis will act in the interest of the region," Amirabdollahian said during a news conference in Beirut.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran, which are locked in proxy conflicts throughout the Middle East, started direct talks last year to try to contain tensions.

Iraq's foreign minister, who brokers talks between the two regional rivals in Baghdad, had said the fifth round of talks would start on 16th March.

However, Iran's Nour News agency said Tehran had "unilaterally suspended talks with Saudi Arabia", without specifying the reason. read more

Saudi Arabia said earlier this month that it had executed 81 men in its biggest mass execution in decades. Activists said 41 were Shi'ite Muslims from the eastern Qatif region, which has historically been a flashpoint between the Sunni-dominated government and minority Shi'ites. read more

Reporting by Dubai Newsroom, Editing by Michael Georgy, Editing by Catherine Evans

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