First Published: 2012-04-03

 

Rafsanjani: Better Iran-Saudi ties will help Tehran counter sanctions

 

Former Iran president says Tehran should resume diplomatic relations with US which were cut off in aftermath of 1979 Islamic revolution.

 

Middle East Online

Tehran’s pragmatic voice

TEHRAN - Iran should forge better ties with regional rival Saudi Arabia to counter Western sanctions on Iranian oil, a former president who now chairs an advisory body to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged on Tuesday.

"If we had good relations with Saudi Arabia, would the West have been able to impose sanctions (on Iran's oil)?", Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani asked in the latest issue of the International Studies Journal, a three-monthly Iranian publication.

"Only Saudi Arabia could fill the void left by Iran. (All they need do is) produce oil within their OPEC quota, and then no one would be able to harass us," he said.

He also reiterated his longstanding position that Iran should resume diplomatic relations with the United States which were cut off in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"If we negotiate with them (other world powers: Europe, China and Russia), why should we not talk with America?" he said, taking up an argument he said he asked in a letter years ago to the late founder of Iran's Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

"The meaning of negotiation is not that we submit to them. We negotiate, and if they accept our positions or we accept theirs, then it is done."

Rafsanjani, who was president 1989-1997, now chairs Iran's Expediency Council, which is tasked with providing counsel to Khamenei.

He is seen as a pragmatic voice in the regime, but one who has lost much of his influence to hardliners who hold sway over the parliament and military.

"We do not need to have relations with the US as we are in best conditions. It is America that needs relations with Iran," one hardline MP, Hossein Ebrahimi who is the deputy head of parliament's foreign policy commission, was quoted as telling the Mehr news agency.

"Iran is considered to (hold) the key to American interests (in the region)," he said.

Saudi Arabia, a US ally that is also the biggest OPEC producer, is facilitating Western sanctions by promising to tap its spare capacity to make up for any imposed shortfall of Iranian oil exports.

The United States this year has been actively working to try to curb Iranian oil sales, which are vital for Tehran's finances. Washington and its allies believe Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons capability, something the Islamic republic denies.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have long competed for influence over the Middle East. They remain divided by religion (Iran is Shiite while Saudi Arabia is Sunni) and by their relations with the United States.

Rafsanjani said that "relations with Saudi Arabia are not a trivial matter" and stated: "I think it is still possible to form good relations (with Riyadh). But there are people who do not want this... some harsh remarks coming from both sides should be corrected."

Iran is resisting Western efforts to make it yield on its nuclear programme through sanctions.

Talks between Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany are due to be held late next week to address the showdown. The last round of negotiations, held in Istanbul in January 2011, collapsed.

 

Turkey mulls military action against jihadists on its doorsteps

Palestinians to UN: Israel occupation must end in 2016

Assad: Countries that backed terrorism can't defeat jihadists

Retired US general says Syria rebel training could 'take years'

Foreign jihad lures Tunisia youth: About 3,000 in Syria alone

Gazans turn war remains into art objects

Skeptical Netanyahu seeks Obama reassurances on Iran

Turkey pushes for long-term solution to ‘Islamic State’ crisis

Metamorphosis of Salim Benghalem: From weed-smoking clubber to US-wanted jihadist

Violence across Iraq kills at least 1,119 people in September

Bahrain court lifts travel ban on Maryam al-Khawaja

Israel, Palestinians agree on one thing: Futility of peace talks

Netanyahu to Ban Ki-moon: Probe into Gaza war ‘one-sided’!

Kurds battle to defend strategic border town in Syria

Iran Nobel laureate questions Tutu's silence on Dalai Lama visa row

Iraqi Kurds hope US-led air strikes can break stalemate

Libya militants vow to continue ‘military operations’

Argentine President charges US could kill her

IS jihadists close in on Turkish border

US troops to return to Mideast

Israel settlers forcefully occupy 25 homes in East Jerusalem

Gunmen wound Saudi policeman in Shiite village in Eastern Province

Erakat likens Netanyahu to leader of ‘Islamic State’

Voters to choose among 27 candidates in Tunisia presidential race

Iran offers military equipment to Lebanon army

Iran extends compulsory military service to 2 years

Frustration grows over Huthi occupation of Yemen capital

US-led air strikes pound ‘Islamic State’ near Syria border town

Britain plans action against extremism ‘in all its forms’

Vigilante groups terrorise Syria refugees in Lebanon

Kurd troops launch offensive on IS on three fronts

Balkans clamp down on jihadist recruitment

Syrian refugees try their luck in Latin America

Indian PM warns US to repeat Iraq 'mistake' in Afghanistan

Israel PM warns Iran poses gravest threat to world

Kuwait strips 18 nationals of citizenship

Ahead of Tunisia elections, Ghannouchi appeals for US support

Israel deploys extra forces as two faiths mark major holy days

Egypt, Libya plunge in good governance rating

Saudi Arabia breaks silence on Huthi occupation of Yemen capital

Air strikes fail to halt advance of IS jihadists in Syria

Rival Libya factions meet for reconciliation talks

Iran-P5+1 nuclear talks ‘to resume’ by mid-October

HRW criticises human rights rollback under Erdogan

Syria's Nusra Front chief warns to transfer battle to West