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Iranian And Saudi Foreign Ministers Contradict One Another On Secret Contacts

An onlooker films Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Right on the screen display) taking part in the panel discussion "A conversation with Iran" during the 56th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich.

While the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, insists that Tehran and Riyadh have exchanged messages, his Saudi counterpart says that there is no direct contacts between the Islamic Republic and the Persian Gulf kingdom.

Zarif also asserted on Saturday that countries such as Saudi Arabia do not seek the de-escalation of tensions in the region.

"If there is a will for reducing tensions, there are many ways, but I believe that countries such as Saudi Arabia do not seek the de-escalation of tensions," Zarif told the Munich Security Conference.

Speaking in a session on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Zarif disclosed that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had called upon Iran to negotiate with Saudi Arabia.

Furthermore, Zarif claimed he had agreed with the former Qods Force Chief Commander Qassem Soleimani to relay a message on Iraq and Yemen to the Saudis. However, according to Zarif, Saudis responded that conflicts between Arab countries were none of Iran’s business.

Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone attack on January 3, outside Baghdad international airport, almost immediately after the Qods Force-backed militia attacked Washington's embassy in Iraq.

Meanwhile, without elaborating on a date, Zarif also reiterated that although he replied to the Saudis' response, he received no further messages.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Saturday no private messages or direct contact had taken place to ease tensions with Iran and that Tehran first needed to change its behavior before talks can happen.

"Until we can talk about the real sources of that instability, talk is going to be unproductive," Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, fired back at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, February 15.

However, Tehran's ambassador to Baghdad, Iraj Masjedi, has also asserted that Soleimani, was carrying a message for Saudis, saying Tehran was ready to address its disputes with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia as soon as possible.

Furthermore, the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Washington last Wednesday and discussed the Islamic Republic's destabilizing behavior in the region.

Immediately after the meeting, Pompeo reiterated in a tweet, "U.S.-Saudi partnership is critical as we confront Iran's destabilizing behavior. We also share an interest in de-escalation in Yemen."

With reporting by Reuters, DPA