Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has extended an olive branch to his regional rival Saudi Arabia by saying that Tehran is ready to restore ties with Riyadh under two conditions – stop bombing Yemen and stand up against Israel.
His remarks on Sunday, 10 December, comes at a crucial time when the entire Arab world is rallying in support of Palestine against the US' move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Rouhani was speaking in the country's parliament when he declared that his theocratic nation did not see too many hurdles in renewing ties with the ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia.
"If Saudi Arabia, as a neighboring country, stops the bombing of Yemen from tomorrow, stops bowing to Israel and stands straight and relies on its own people and the region, then we will have no problems with them," announced Rouhani amid the ongoing bitter cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia on a range of issues.
Both the Shia-oriented Iran and Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia, two regional powerhouses with clashing ideologies, share a fractious relationship due to a power struggle over a series of religio-political issues such as the way Islam is interpreted, the Islamic world's leadership and oil exports.
Though Israel, an archrival of Iran, does not have any diplomatic relations with Riyadh there have been indications in the recent past that the two are edging closer so as to challenge their common adversary, Tehran.
Rouhani insisted that his country would keep up the promises unlike the US as he took a dig at President Trump's relentless push against Iran's nuclear deal with the world powers. "We declare to the world that our relations with the world are in accordance with our pledge; we do not break our promises; we are not America; we sign a contract hard, but if we sign anything, we keep our promises."
Saudi Arabia and Iran snapped their diplomatic relations in January 2015 after Riyadh executed a prominent Shia cleric. Saudi diplomatic posts were also attacked by pro-Iranian demonstrators at that time in response to Riyadh's move. Since then the two heavyweights have constantly been at loggerheads on an array of regional and global issues.