Relations with Iran difficult because of its policies: Saudi minister

New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) Saudi Arabia finds it difficult to maintain good relations with Iran because of Tehran’s policies, the Gulf kingdom’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said on Tuesday.

“Relations with Iran are difficult because of its policies,” Jubeir told IANS during the course of an interview.

Diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Tehran were cut off after Saudi Arabia executed a Shia cleric in January this year.

The execution of Nimr Al-Nimr, a Saudi national, created a volatile situation in the Middle East with the Saudi missions in Iran coming under attack and Riyadh cutting off diplomatic ties with Shia-majority Tehran.

Nimr was among 47 people executed on terrorism charges.

As protests broke out in Iran, Saudi Arabia maintained that the executions reflected the Gulf nation’s determination to combat terror.

According to a statement issued by the Saudi embassy in New Delhi, Nimr Al-Nimr “was involved in inciting people, recruiting people and providing weapons to people”.

“He was involved in attacks against security personnel and police stations that led to the killing of innocents,” it stated.

According to Jubeir, though Riyadh has been trying to develop good ties with Tehran since the time of the Iranian revolution, it has been difficult because of the policies of that country’s government.

“We have tremendous respect for Iran’s culture,” he said.

“But Iran’s government is following a policy of sectarianism. It has a policy of interfering in the matters of other countries.”

The Saudi foreign minister said that unless Tehran changed its policies, it would be difficult to deal with Iran.

Jubeir was on a day-long visit to New Delhi as part of the preparations for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia early next month.

He held meetings with Modi as well as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj before departing for Riyadh Tuesday afternoon.

(Aroonim Bhuyan can be contacted at aroonim.b@ians.in)

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