Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United Nations calls on Iran to stop interfering in the affairs of other countries to restore ties between the two rival powers. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Saudi Arabia said on Monday (January 4) it would restore ties with Iran when it stopped meddling in the affairs of other countries and pledged that Riyadh would continue to work "very hard" to support bids for peace in Syria and Yemen despite the spat. Saudi Arabia cut all ties with Iran on Sunday (January 3) following the kingdom's execution of prominent Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Protesters in Iran and Iraq marched for a third day to denounce the execution. When asked what it would take for ties to be restored, Saudi U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi told reporters: "Very simple - Iran to cease and desist from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, including our own. If they do so we will of course have normal relations with Iran. Iran is a sisterly country, we share history with Iran, we share religion with Iran, we share geography, and we share a common future." The row threatened to derail efforts to end Syria's five-year-old civil war, where Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab powers support rebel groups against Iran-backed President Bashar al-Assad. Saudi Arabia has been instrumental in bringing together Syria's political and armed opposition groups which would participate in peace talks with Assad's government. However, Mouallimi said his country's severing of ties with Iran would not affect its efforts to secure peace in Syria and Yemen. "Well, we will attend the next Syria talks and we are not going to boycott them because of Iran or anybody else for that matter. If we decide to boycott them it would have to be for a better reason than that," he told reporters at the United Nations. On Monday, Bahrain and Sudan cut all ties with Iran, following Riyadh's example. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Reuters Riyadh would also halt air traffic and commercial relations between the rival powers. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), home to hundreds of thousands of Iranians, partially downgraded its relations but the other Gulf Arab countries - Kuwait, Qatar and Oman - stayed above the fray.