Berlin, 23 Rabiul Akhir 1437/2 February 2016 (MINA) – German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is to travel to Iran and Saudi Arabia this week in a bid to ease tensions between the regional powers, the ministry said Monday.
Friction between the regional rivals was heightened last month when Saudi Arabia’s execution of a leading Shia Muslim cleric sparked protests in Iran that led to the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran, Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) reported, quoting Anadolu Agency.
The trip also comes as opposing factions in Syria’s five-year conflict gather in Geneva for UN-brokered talks. Riyadh and Tehran back opposing sides in the war.
“We would like to help preventing [an] escalation of tensions in the region, also tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told a news conference in Berlin.
He said Germany would seek “reference points” to bring the two sides together.
Referring to separate Syria talks due to be held in Vienna between ministers of the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Qatar, Lebanon, France, Britain and Germany, Schaefer added: “It is important to get the support of Riyadh and Tehran for the Vienna process, as the talks have entered into a very important stage.”
Germany expects Iran and the Saudis to use their influence on, respectively, the Syrian regime and opposition delegations in Geneva, the spokesman said.
Steinmeier will visit Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Ali Larijani, parliamentary chairman, Tuesday and Wednesday before travelling to Riyadh to meeting Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. (T/P010/R07)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)