Saudi Arabia has sought to reassure the international community that peace efforts in Syria and Yemen will not be affected by its fallout with Iran. The Kingdom's envoy to the UN, Abdallah al-Mouallimi said that Saudi Arabia will attend the next round of talks on Syria.
"From our side it should have no effect because we will continue to work very hard to support the peace efforts in Syria, in Yemen," al-Mouallimi told reporters. "We will attend the next Syria talks and we're not going to boycott them because of Iran or anybody else for that matter."
Taking a swipe at Iran, he said: "The Iranians, even before the break of diplomatic relations, have not been very supportive, have not been very positive in these peace efforts". Al-Mouallimi added: "I don't think the break in relations is going to dissuade them from such behaviour." The regional Sunni and Shia superpowers back opposing sides in both Syria and Yemen.
Tensions have steadily escalated between the two countries since the Gulf state's execution of Shia cleric, Nimr al-Nimr. His killing – along with 46 others – sparked outrage in Tehran, where protesters stormed the Saudi Embassy and set it ablaze on 2 January.
Riyadh subsequently took the decision to break diplomatic ties between the Sunni and Shia rivals. It's allies Bahrain and Sudan quickly followed suit, while the UAE scaled back its relations with Tehran and fears over the fate of Syria and Yemen – where both sides are waging an ugly proxy war – have intensified.
Despite the hostilities between the two nations, al-Mouallimi said that tensions could be de-escalated if Iran stopped "interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, including our own." Saudi Arabia's UN ambassador said: "If they do so, we will of course have normal relations with Iran." Al-Mouallimi added: "We are not natural-born enemies of Iran."
The UN's Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura will head to Iran from Saudi Arabia later this week as he seeks assurances from both sides that the Syria peace process is not at risk, AFP reported. De Mistura is relying on support from across the board to ensure that peace talks between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition go ahead in Geneva on 25 January.
Turkey has also waded into the dispute, appealing for calm in what is already a volatile region. "For us it is not possible to support capital punishment by any country," Turkey's deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.
"We want both countries to immediately move away from the situation of tension that will obviously only add to the already severe tensions existing in the Middle East. The region is already a powder keg. Enough is enough. We need peace in the region," he added.