Iran Welcomes Saudi Visit Plan

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Iran on Wednesday welcomed a plan for its foreign minister to visit Saudi Arabia, stressing the need to boost relations after years of strained ties.

The two countries have been at odds over Syria’s civil war and the fallout from unrest in Bahrain.

Riyadh’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Tuesday said he had invited his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to visit the kingdom.

Iran’s deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told the official IRNA news agency that Tehran had yet to receive Riyadh’s formal invite, but a meeting was expected.

“We have not received the written invitation yet, but visits of the countries’ foreign ministers are on the agenda of Iran,” Amir Abdollahian said.

“We welcome negotiation and visits (aimed at) helping to resolve the regional problems, to clear up misunderstandings as well as expanding bilateral ties,” he added.

In the Syrian conflict, Shiite Muslim Iran has backed the government of President Bashar Assad while Sunni Saudi Arabia has been a leading supporter of rebel forces.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said after his election win last June that he wanted to reach out to Gulf Arab governments as part of efforts to end his country’s international isolation.

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