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Germany urges Riyadh, Tehran to resume dialogue

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Germany urged Riyadh and Tehran today to restore diplomatic relations and warned it would take into account developments in Saudi Arabia when it decides on arms exports there.

France meanwhile called for a “de-escalation” of tensions.

In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said: “We call on both countries to resume dialogue. We appeal to both countries… To use all means at their disposal to improve their diplomatic relations.”

He reiterated Germany’s “dismay” over Saudi Arabia’s execution of 47 prisoners, including a Shiite cleric, which sparked attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran followed by a severing of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Seibert said relations between the key regional players are “of fundamental importance for resolving the crises in Syria and Yemen and for the stability of the entire region”.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s spokesman Martin Schaefer said that “for years the international community, including Germany, has been working to help ensure that the region’s many crises and conflicts… Can be contained.”

“Saudi Arabia and Iran must contribute to crisis resolution,” he told a news conference.

A spokesman for the economy ministry meanwhile said it was “following developments” in Saudi Arabia, and that they would “come into play” when it decides on approval for future defence exports to the country.

The German opposition has called in recent days on the government to review its relationship with Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude oil exporter and a major customer of German defence and other high-tech goods.

Seibert stressed that “it is in the interest of Germany to have dialogue with Saudi Arabia … We are committed to a constructive relationship with Riyadh.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius meanwhile called for a “de-escalation of tensions” between Riyadh and Tehran, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said.

“France has an important role in this region as an interlocutor with all the parties,” Le Foll said following a cabinet meeting, noting that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani plans to visit Paris in the coming weeks.

Relations between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shiite-dominated Iran have been strained for decades.

The oil-rich foes have also been divided over the nearly five-year war in Syria, where Iran is backing the regime, and the conflict in Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Shiite rebels.

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