Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Monday urged Iran to stop “meddling” in the affairs of the kingdom’s neighbours, warning that Riyadh stood ready to confront Tehran’s actions.
Iran openly backs President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war and is accused of also being behind rebels who overran large parts of Yemen last year and early this year.
“We wish that Iran would change its policies and stop meddling in the affairs of other countries in the region, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen,” Adel al-Jubeir said at joint press briefing with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Riyadh.
“It is difficult to have positive relations” with Tehran, “when Saudi Arabia and its people are the target of continuous aggression” from the kingdom’s arch rival, said Jubeir.
Saudi Arabia supports rebel groups who are fighting to oust Assad in the Syrian conflict.
“We will make sure that we confront Iran’s actions and shall use all our political, economic and military powers to defend our territory and people,” said Jubeir.
He accused Iran of acting like a “colonising state” in Syria, and demanded it pull its fighters out of the country and stop supplying arms to Assad.
Otherwise, “it will be difficult (for Iran) to play a role” in finding a solution for the conflict in Syria, he said.
Steinmeier, who visited Iran before Saudi Arabia, said it was “very difficult at the moment to really bridge the deep divide between Tehran and Riyadh”.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saturday in a joint news conference with Steinmeier that “Iran does not seek to eliminate Saudi Arabia but also will not let Saudi Arabia eliminate Iran from the region.”