Iran oil minister 'met Saudi counterpart' in Moscow amid growing regional tension

Iran oil minister 'met Saudi counterpart' in Moscow amid growing regional tension
Saudi Arabia and Iran's oil ministers met at the Russian Energy Week international forum earlier this month, the Iranian official claimed.
3 min read
07 October, 2019
The two oil ministers attended the Russian Energy Week international forum [Getty]
Iran’s oil minister said he met his Saudi counterpart on the sidelines of an energy conference in Moscow, in an unusual move that comes amid ongoing tension between the regional arch-enemies.

Bijan Namdar Zangeneh met with Prince Abdelaziz bin Salman in early October, local Iranian news reported, though Saudi Arabia is yet to confirm or deny the development. However, Russian news outlets confirmed the meeting had in fact taken place on the sidelines of the Russia Energy Week international forum, which took place in Moscow on 2-5 October.

“I told him that we have been friends for 22 years and this friendship has witnessed periods of ups and downs and there is no problem from my end to meet you,” Zangeneh said.

“They [the Saudis] should not view us as the enemy because the enemy is outside this region,” Zangeneh added.

Despite the Iranian official’s seemingly open approach, he failed to clarify the position of his Saudi counterpart at the alleged meeting, which comes amid rising regional tension between the two enemy states.

Earlier this week, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affair Adel al-Jubeir slammed Iran's statement it received a message from Saudi Arabia through an unidentified mediator as "not accurate”.

"What the Iranian speaker said about the kingdom sending messages to the Iranian regime is not accurate," Adel al-Jubeir tweeted on Tuesday.

"What happened was that sister countries sought to calm the situation, and we told them that the position of the kingdom was to always seek security and stability in the region," Jubeir also tweeted according to Reuters.

Iran's President Rouhani said he received a message from Saudi Arabia on Monday.

"The leaders of some countries conveyed messages from the Saudis to President Hassan Rouhani," the semi-official IRNA news agency said, quoting government spokesman Ali Rubaie.

"If Saudi Arabia is really seeking a change in behaviour, Iran would welcome that," he added.

The comments came after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan last week revealed both the United States and Saudi Arabia asked him to mediate with Iran to defuse tensions.

Khan met both US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Rouhani at the United Nations, before which he visited Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia.

"Trump asked me that if we could de-escalate the situation and maybe come up with another deal," Khan told reporters.

"Yes, we did convey this, and yes, we're trying our best," he said.

"I immediately spoke to President Rouhani yesterday after the meeting with President Trump. I can't say anything right now more than this except that we're trying and mediating," he said.

In Saudi Arabia, where oil processing facilities were hit earlier this month by attacks blamed on Iran, Crown Prince Mohammed "also asked me to talk to the Iranian president," Khan said.

Pakistan traditionally has strong relations with Saudi Arabia but also maintains ties with Iran, with Islamabad representing Tehran's consular interests in the United States in the absence of diplomatic relations.

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