A Kuwaiti daily has insisted that its report on an Iranian request to Tunisia to mediate in the tensions with Saudi Arabia was true and well-founded, Gulf News reports. Al Jarida’s insistence on its front page on Thursday was made after Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi dismissed the report as “unfounded.”
“Iran has made no requests to Tunisia for mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia and this report is rejected,” Qassemi was quoted by Tasnim news agency as telling reporters on Wednesday when asked about the report.
However, Al Jarida said that “the diplomatic circles in Iran have been in a state of confusion over the leak” and that the daily “received a new confirmation of the information and additional details from an Arab diplomatic source in Tehran with links to the file”.
In its report on Wednesday, Al Jarida said that Mohammad Irani, director-general for the Middle East and North Africa at the Iranian foreign ministry, was dispatched to Tunisia as a personal emissary of Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif to request his Tunisian counterpart Khemaies Jhinaoui to “intervene in the crisis between Tehran and Riyadh and discuss with the Saudis the possibility of behind-the-scenes talks between the two countries to resolve differences”.
“Jhinaoui conveyed the message to Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, on the sidelines of the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo last Sunday,” the daily said.
On Thursday, Al Jarida reported that Jhinaoui received on November 16 the Iranian ambassador to Tunisia who explored the possibility with the Tunisian official. Jhinaoui afterwards held a meeting with the Saudi ambassador to Tunisia and conveyed the Iranian move.
“Following the Saudi agreement to receive the message formally, Jhinaoui contacted the Iranian ambassador who subsequently called Tehran. Iran on the same day sent Mohammad Irani as an official envoy from the Iranian government with the formal message,” Al Jarida said.
The source reportedly told the daily that Iran hoped its initiative would contribute to influencing the meeting of the Arab foreign ministers held in Cairo on Sunday to discuss Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries. The meeting, under the auspices of the Arab League, condemned Iran and Hezbollah in the harshest terms.
Al Jarida said Tunisia’s media on November 16 published reports about Foreign Minister Jhinaoui receiving the Saudi and Iranian ambassadors separately and, later on the day, the envoy of the Iranian foreign minister.
“The Tunisian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Iranian letter was about relations between the two countries and the developments in the Gulf region, pointing out that Jhinaoui assured the Iranian envoy of Tunisia’s keenness on security and stability in this region and highlighted Tunisia’s preoccupation with the developments there. Jhinaoui stressed the importance of holding on to dialogue and negotiations as the only way to resolve disputes and problems,” Al Jarida said.
The Kuwaiti daily published a picture taken from Tunisian media of Jhinaoui receiving a letter from Irani.
In its quest to further confirm its report, Al Jarida said that Jhinaoui on November 17 told the Human Rights, Freedoms and Foreign Relations Committee at the Tunisian parliament that the Iranian ambassador “recently visited him and requested Tunisia’s advice and assistance to calm the situation in the Arab region and the Gulf.”
Jhinaoui added that “he also met the Saudi ambassador who asked Tunisia to contribute to calming down the situation.”