Saudi Arabia to negotiate with Tehran after Riyadh receives U.S. defense convoy
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Riyadh Tuesday (Mandel Ngan/Pool/AFP)
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Riyadh announced Tuesday that Saudi Arabia is "ready to negotiate" with its rival Iran, according to Agence France Presse.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal told reporters Tuesday that, "Iran is a neighbor, we have relations with them and we will negotiate with them. We will talk with them in the hope that if there are any differences, they will be settled to the satisfaction of both countries. Our hope is that Iran becomes part of the effort to make the region as safe and as prosperous as possible, not part of the problem of the insecurity of the region."
Faisal also invited his counterpart in Tehran, Mohammad Javad Zarif to visit Riyadh.
"Any time that he sees fit to come, we are willing to receive him," he said.
Zarif has previously expressed willingness to work with Riyadh to establish regional stability and said in December that he would like to visit Saudi Arabia.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have often been characterized as regional rivals, divided on major issues such as the Syrian civil war where Shiite Tehran supports the regime and Sunni Riyadh backs the opposition.
Iran's decision, however to negotiate with the West over its nuclear program, with the latest round of talks commencing Monday, has in part spurred the recent exchanges between the two rivals.
Hagel is currently on a regional tour that focuses on Iran's nuclear program and the conflict in Syria, largely in an effort to ensure its key ally, Saudi Arabia, that its 2013 nuclear deal with Iran and its "cautionary approach" to arming Syria's opposition are not meant "to sour relations" with Riyadh.
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