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Latest update : 2017-07-21

Iran open to dialogue with Saudis, says top diplomat

© FRANCE 24 screen grab

Kamal Kharrazi, the head of Iran's Strategic Council on Foreign Relations and a foreign policy adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told FRANCE 24 on Friday that Iran was open to “dialogue” with Saudi Arabia despite escalating tensions.

“We know they (Riyadh) have made many mistakes in Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq and Syria, but we are still for dialogue,” Kharrazi said.

Asked about new US sanctions levied on Iranian individuals and entities this week, the former foreign minister said the moves were "violations" of the 2015 nuclear agreement in both the letter and the "spirit" of the deal. But he emphasised that Tehran remained committed to the accord and would only walk away if the US administration withdrew first.

Kharrazi said Iran has always struggled with terrorism but is resolute in countering the threat. A double attack in June claimed by the Islamic State group left 17 people dead. “Iran has always been vulnerable ... but it’s been stable enough to fight terrorists,” Kharrazi said. 

"One of the reasons that we rushed to the help of the Syrian government, and the Iraqi government, was concern about our own security, because they are very close to our borders."

Regarding French President Emmanuel Macron's recent reversal on Syria, in which he said the removal of President Bashar al-Assad was no longer a requirement, Kharrazi said Iran welcomed the shift. "We appreciate the position of President Macron," he said, adding: "It's more realistic."

Of the Islamic Republic’s human rights record, Kharrazi said evidence in espionage cases would be made public if the suspect is found guilty.

Earlier this month a Princeton University student, Xiyue Wang, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage. In another high-profile case, Iran sentenced The Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief, Jason Rezaian, to prison on spying charges after a closed-door trial in 2015. Rezaian was released last year.

Click on the video player above to view the exclusive FRANCE 24 interview.
 

By Sanam SHANTYAEI

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