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Top Iranian official holds talks on IS with Saudi





Jeddah: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal discussed on Tuesday regional developments and the fight against Islamic State extremists with a senior Iranian official visiting his country's longtime regional rival, an Iranian diplomat said.

The visit by Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to the city of Jeddah was the first by a high-level official from Iran to Saudi Arabia since Hassan Rouhani became the Islamic republic's president in August last year.

The meeting was "fruitful", Iran's representative at the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Riza Hamid Dahqani told AFP.

The diplomat, who attended the meeting, said that the two men discussed relations between both "neighbours", regional developments and "the challenges facing the region such as extremism and Israel's savage aggression" on Gaza Strip.

They particularly discussed the situation "in Iraq and means to confront extremism and terrorism," said Dahqani, referring to IS rebels, operating in Syria and Iraq.

The Iranian diplomat did not elaborate on how Saudi and Iran could cooperate to stop the advance of the extremists.

Iran and Saudi are on opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, with Tehran backing President Bashar Al Assad and Riyadh supporting the rebels trying to topple him.

Amir-Abdollahian visited Riyadh in June, but that was for an OIC meeting.

Iran's financial daily Donya-e Eghtessad wrote: "It (the visit) is a step towards improving relations between Tehran and Riyadh."

The authorities in Saudi Arabia had invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, but he declined, citing the ongoing nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 powers.


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