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DUBAI: Iran and Saudi Arabia are interested in holding more talks, Tehran’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday, three months after a fifth round of contacts aimed at restoring relations between the Middle East’s two main rival powers.

Tehran gave an update on the status of the talks as US President Joe Biden landed in Israel in a high-stakes Middle East trip that will include Saudi Arabia. Both countries are US allies while Iran is a longtime adversary of Washington.

“Our conclusion is that the negotiations have been positive. Both sides are interested in a continuation of the meetings,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani told a televised weekly news conference.

“The delay in holding the next round of talks between Tehran and Riyadh is due to efforts (being made) to take an important step forward at the next meeting in Baghdad,” he said.

In May, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said there had been some progress in the Iraq-mediated talks with Iran but “not enough”.

Biden heads to Israel for high-stakes Middle East visit

The fifth round of the talks was held in April after Iran suspended the negotiations in March without giving a reason, but the decision came on the heels of Saudi Arabia’s execution of 81 prisoners, its biggest mass use of the death penalty in decades.

US officials say Biden’s trip - his first to the Middle East as president - could yield more steps toward normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, historic foes but also two of America’s strongest allies in the turbulent region.

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