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Iran 'ready for dialogue' with regional rival Saudi Arabia

Foreign Minister Zarif if waiting for a Saudi response [AFP]

Date of publication: 31 July, 2019

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Tensions have almost reached boiling point in the Gulf as regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, and their allies, spar.
Iran is ready for dialogue with Saudi Arabia if the kingdom is also willing, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said on Wednesday.

"If Saudi Arabia is ready for dialogue, we are always ready for dialogue with our neighbours," he said, according to the IRIB news agency.

"We have never closed the door to dialogue with our neighbours and we will never close the door to dialogue with our neighbours."

Tensions in the Gulf have risen dramatically in recent months, with Riyadh accusing Tehran of ordering sabotage attacks on tankers and drone attacks by the Iran-linked Yemeni Houthi rebels.

The influence of the kingdom's ally, the US, and particularly the sway held by anti-Iran National Security Advisor John Bolton has led to rising fears of conflict in the Gulf.

President Donald Trump has stepped up the country's military presence in the region and reinforced sanctions in the hopes of forcing Iran to renegotiate a landmark 2015 nuclear pact from which Trump pulled out last year.

The UK was also brought into the crisis with the seizure of an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar by UK naval forces on suspicion of it carrying oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

Iran vowed to retaliate and its Revolutionary Guards stormed and detained the UK-flagged Stena Impero and its 23 crew as they sailed through the Strait of Hormuz earlier this month.

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