Iran sends envoy to Riyadh for Yemen talks

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TEHRAN: The Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs has arrived in Saudi Arabia to take part in high-level talks attended by senior officials from Muslim countries on the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian arrived in the capital Riyadh on Monday to attend a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the Yemen issue, AFP reported. 

The extraordinary meeting, which is to be held on Tuesday in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, is based on a request by the deposed government of Yemen, the OIC said in a statement, adding that the gathering has the backing of the majority of its member states.

Amir-Abdollahian’s visit to Riyadh is the first such high-level trip by an Iranian official since Saudi Arabia started its aggression against Yemen almost three months ago. The attacks, which have been mostly in the form of deadly airstrikes targeting population centers and sensitive infrastructure across Yemen, has claimed more than 2,300 lives, according to the UN. However, Yemeni sources have put the death toll at at least 4,300.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have been at odds over some regional issues, including those of Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq. Tehran has repeatedly called for negotiations on major regional developments.

In his recent remarks on Yemen, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran stands ready to engage in dialog and cooperation with its “neighbors and friends” in the  Middle East on regional security, stability and sustainable development.

The seasoned Iranian diplomat said Thursday that such talks could also have Saudi Arabia as a major partner.

“The regional countries, including Saudi Arabia, can play a pivotal role in assisting peace, stability and security in the region,” he said.

The OIC meeting will come just one day after Yemen’s political factions gather in Geneva for talks under the auspices of the United Nations. The talks in the Swiss city aim to secure a ceasefire, and accelerate the delivery of humanitarian aid to war-stricken Yemeni people.

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