Saudi Crown Prince strikes conciliatory tone with rival Iran
Saudi Arabia's crown prince on Tuesday struck a conciliatory tone towards the kingdom's arch-nemesis Iran, saying he sought "good" relations, after sources said the rivals held secret talks in Baghdad.
The two countries, locked in a fierce struggle for regional dominance, cut ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following the kingdom's execution of a revered Shiite cleric.
He added that Riyadh was working with regional and global partners to find solutions to Tehran's "negative behaviour".
That marks a change in tone compared to Prince Mohammed's previous interviews, in which he lashed out at Tehran, accusing it of fuelling regional insecurity.
The prince did not mention any negotiations with Tehran.
The talks in Baghdad, facilitated by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, remained secret until the Financial Times reported that a first meeting had been held on April 9.
An Iraqi government official confirmed the talks to AFP, while a Western diplomat said he had been "briefed in advance" about the effort to "broker a better relationship and decrease tensions".
Riyadh has officially denied the talks in its state-backed media while Tehran has stayed mum, asserting only that it has "always welcomed" dialogue with Saudi Arabia.
The initiative comes at a time of shifting power dynamics, as US President Joe Biden is seeking to revive the tattered 2015 nuclear deal that was abandoned by Donald Trump.
Iran supports the Huthi rebels, who are battling the Saudi-led military coalition that intervened in Yemen's war in 2015.
The rebels have also stepped up drone and missile strikes on Saudi targets, including its oil facilities.
In his interview, Prince Mohammed renewed calls for a ceasefire and negotiations with the rebels.