BAGHDAD (southafricnews) – Iran wants to resolve differences with its Gulf foes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “as quickly as possible”, Tehran’s ambassador to Iraq told the Iraqi state news agency in an interview published on Tuesday.
Ambassador Iraj Masjedi said that top commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed at Baghdad airport by a U.S. drone strike last month, was carrying a message setting out Iran’s position on possible rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, the news agency reported.
“Tehran welcomes Iraq’s role in trying to solve differences between Iran and Saudi,” Masjedi was quoted as saying, referring to recent Iraq efforts to mediate between the regional rivals, expressing Iran’s “wish to resolve differences and challenges with Saudi and the UAE as quickly as possible.”
Iraq’s state news agency published excerpts from the interview in Arabic.
Soleimani’s message that he was meant to deliver when he arrived in Baghdad on Jan.3, the day he was killed, set out Tehran’s position on “fighting terrorism and achieving peace and security in the region,” Masjedi said.
The killing of Soleimani has been a blow to Iran’s regional strategy. Soleimani was the mastermind behind Iran’s control, through proxy militia forces and political alliances, over a corridor of territory stretching from Tehran through Iraq to the Mediterranean via Syria and Lebanon.
The United States says it is determined to counter Iran’s influence in the region and has imposed sanctions and targeted its paramilitary forces.
Reporting by John Davison and Babak Dehghanpisheh in Dubai