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.

 

Huthi forces crumble in face of Saudi-led air campaign

Saudi Arabia puts security forces on alert over possible attacks

Lebanon receives first French weapons to bolster army

Mogherini: No more excuses on migrants

Qatar to float football fans during 2022 World Cup

Iran to neighbours: Nuclear deal could open door to regional cooperation

Lebanon ex-minister admits transporting explosives from Syria

Italy considers 'targeted interventions' against people smugglers in Libya

Latest developments in Middle East remind Washington of Egypt’s key role

Egypt confirms death sentences against 22 Morsi supporters

Tunisia President plans visit to White House next month

France urges peace deal to restore order in Libya

US condemns IS 'brutal murder' against Christians in Libya

At least six killed in bomb attack on UN bus in Somalia

Yemen rebel leader vows resistance against Saudi-led ‘aggression’

Crisis of unemployment: Over 30% of Arab youth jobless

Arab army chiefs to discuss dream of joint military force

Libya peace talks 'very close' to final accord

Large wave of displacement as violence rages on in Anbar

Khamenei urges Iran military to increase ' defensive preparedness'

‘Islamic State’ claims executions of Ethiopia Christians in Libya

Egypt sentences 11 football fans to death in retrial after 2012 riot

Thousands of Yemen troops side with President Hadi

Tunisia prevents departure of more than 12,000 would-be jihadists

Unidentified gunman opens fire on pro-Kurdish party office in Turkey

Iraq PM's spokesman resigns over pro-Saddam song

Israel pledges to transfer frozen taxes to Palestinian Authority

'Differences' emerge in Libya peace talks

Saudi Arabia vows to cover UN aid appeal for Yemen

Iraqi forces kill Hussein deputy in Salahuddin province

Iraq massacre site turns into memorial

Israeli coalition talks approaching deadline

Turkish PM condemns EU resolution on Armenian genocide

Tehran calls for immediate Yemen peace talks

Assad accuses Turkey of torpedoing UN Aleppo truce plan

New round of Libya rival talks in Morocco

EU urged to label Israeli West bank products

General Dempsey: Military option on Iran 'intact'

UN chief calls for immediate Yemen ceasefire

Abadi to Iran: We welcome your help as long as you respect Iraq sovereignty

Anger in Indonesia as Saudi Arabia executes second woman

France jihadist attacks fuel unprecedented rise in Islamophobia

Turkey mine chief: ‘I am not a murderer’

France sees progress in Rafale jet negotiations with UAE

Lebanese TV contempt trial opens at slain Hariri tribunal