Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Monday he was positive about the way the incoming U.S. administration wanted to restore American influence in the world, contain Iran and fight Islamic State, APA reports quoting Reuters.
“We are optimistic about the incoming administration and look forward to working with it in all areas that are a concern for both of us,” Jubeir told reporters in Paris.
“We will look at the Trump administration’s view as articulated. Wanting to restore America’s role in the world, we welcome this. Wanting to defeat ISIS (Islamic State), absolutely. Wanting to contain Iran … absolutely.”
Jubeir said the interests of the world’s largest oil exporter were aligned with those of the United States, be it geopolitically – in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran – or on energy and financial issues.
“The objectives we want to achieve are the same. We may have disagreements on how to get there, but we don’t disagree on what needs to be done, and that will not change,” he said.
When asked specifically about Riyadh’s relationship with its Shi’ite regional rival Iran and whether there could be a detente between them, Jubeir accused Tehran of destabilizing the region.
Relations between the two worsened after hundreds of people, many of them Iranians, died in a stampede at the 2015 Muslim haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Iran blamed the disaster on organizers’ incompetence and boycotted last year’s haj.
Ties worsened further when Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia executed a Shi’ite cleric a year ago. Angry Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran and Riyadh severed diplomatic relations.
“Our relationship with Iran is tense and it’s in function of its aggressive and hostile policies. It would be wonderful to live in peace and harmony with Iran, but it takes two to tango,” Jubeir said, speaking in English.
“We can’t be subject to death and destruction and expect to turn the other cheek. We tried, but it didn’t work.”